Catcher hits grand slam in 10th inning

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Javy Lopez made it a grand


width=8 rowspan=2> 

src="" width=65 height=90

border=0 alt="Javy Lopez">

size="-2" color="#666666">Lopez

The island favorite hit his second home run of the game, a grand

slam in the 10th inning that set off a festive celebration and sent

the Atlanta Braves over the Montreal Expos 14-8 Thursday for a

three-game sweep.

So popular in his homeland that he bought at least 40 tickets

each day, Lopez rewarded his fans with a career-high six RBI. Both

of his homers brought prolonged chants and cheers led by his dad --

prompting a pair of rare curtain calls by a visiting player.

"I couldn't ask for any more," Lopez said. "What better way

to leave the country? I knew I had a lot of fans in Puerto Rico,

but I have more than that. It is something to remember."

After the teams combined to score a total of eight runs in the

first two games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, they broke loose at the

cozy ballpark with the tight dimensions.

Lopez led the way with three hits, including his seventh career

slam. He wound up getting 60 tickets for the finale, and it was

well worth it.

"Everything was totally a plus," he said.

Even though a 53-minute rain delay washed out batting practice,

the hitters quickly got into the swing as Rafael Furcal homered on

the third pitch of the game by Livan Hernandez.

Marcus Giles homered, doubled twice and singled, and Andruw

Jones also homered as the Braves won their fourth in a row and

reached .500 for the first time this season.

Endy Chavez hit a two-run homer in the eighth for Montreal that

made it 8-all.

"This is the worst game we've played all year, from both

sides," Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "We were playing catch

up all night."

Chipper Jones, out of the starting lineup for the second

straight day because of a sprained left groin, pinch-hit in the

10th and drew a leadoff walk from Rocky Biddle (1-1). After Furcal

sacrificed, Giles doubled home the go-ahead run.

A pair of intentional walks and right fielder Vladimir

Guerrero's second error of the game produced a run and loaded the

bases for Lopez.

With the rain starting to fall harder, Lopez hit a long drive to

left field that again got the crowd of 13,170 swaying.

"It is very exciting, very emotional," Lopez said.

The slam finished Biddle, who had been Montreal's most effective

reliever this year.

"I made a bad pitch and it went out of the yard," he said. "I

didn't really have a command on any of my pitches. Some days you

got it, some days you don't."

Jung Keun Bong (2-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.

Lopez had been 0-for-8 in the first two games in San Juan,

disappointing all the fans who came to see him. He singled his

first time up, then hit a two-run homer in the seventh for an 8-6


"I was just satisfied after I got my first hit. At least I was

going to leave Puerto Rico with a base hit," he said.

Swept by Montreal in a three-game series at Turner Field to open

the season, the Braves got even behind their All-Star catcher.

"He was too excited in the first two games,'' Andruw Jones

said. "He was trying to do too much. He gave them something to

remember it by."

Lopez agreed.

"I came to the park today with my mind shot. It was a hassle --

the people, family, signing the balls. But I understand it."

After Furcal's sixth leadoff homer, Russ Ortiz gave the lead

back in the bottom half, issuing four of his career-high eight

walks. He walked Orlando Cabrera and Wil Cordero with the bases


Vinny Castilla made it 2-all with an RBI double, and Cabrera put

the Expos ahead with a sacrifice fly in third.

Giles hit a solo homer and Julio Franco singled home a run in

the fifth to give Atlanta a 4-3 lead.

Again Montreal rallied, with Jose Vidro grounding a three-run

double down the third-base line off Ray King. Braves manager Bobby

Cox argued the call with third base umpire Bill Hohn while King

talked it over with plate umpire Eric Cooper.

Expos reliever Luis Ayala could not hold the 6-4 lead, however.

Giles doubled with one out and Andruw Jones hit his fifth homer

with two outs. After Cordero was charged with an error for failing

to handle Franco's hard grounder to first, Lopez hit his second

homer of the season.

Game notes

Cox said Chipper Jones probably would start Friday night at

Philadelphia. ... Gary Sheffield doubled to extend his hitting

streak to 14 games for Atlanta. ... The Expos are staying at a

beachfront hotel-casino and this note was posted in the Montreal

clubhouse: "Casino closes at midnight until Saturday afternoon."