SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Javy Lopez made it a grand
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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
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."
"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
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.
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."
- Home Plate Umpire - Eric Cooper
- First Base Umpire - Tim Timmons
- Second Base Umpire - Mike Reilly
- Third Base Umpire - Bill Hohn