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Cabrera Caps Off Montreal's Rally

April 03, 2002|From Associated Press

The Montreal Expos made their fans forget about extinction and feel some excitement.

Down to their last out in what might have been their final season opener, the Expos rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday and beat the Florida Marlins, 7-6, on Orlando Cabrera's single.

While Cabrera was mobbed by his teammates, Manager Frank Robinson wildly waved his hat to the fans and gave them a big thumbs-up.

"Who said there's not baseball fans in Montreal?" Robinson said. "They were great out there tonight--very enthusiastic. They got us going. They got us pumped up. They certainly got me pumped up and they got the players pumped up--and this is what we need."

A crowd of 34,351 cheered loudly after Jose Vidro tied the score with a two-out, two-run single and when Cabrera won it.

"It's always good when you have fans behind you," Vidro said. "That gets your adrenaline going."

The Expos survived baseball's plan to eliminate them during the winter, but poor support is likely to doom them beyond this, their 34th season in Montreal. A crowd of only 3,500 to 6,000 is expected for tonight's game.

The victory was especially satisfying for Montreal fans, seeing who it came against.

Jeff Torborg, who managed Montreal for the final four months of the 2001 season, moved from the Expos to Florida less than a week before spring training. He changed jobs when Jeffrey Loria sold the Expos to Major League Baseball and bought the Marlins.

With Braden Looper (0-1) pitching, Brad Wilkerson drew a leadoff walk in the Expos' ninth and Michael Barrett doubled.

After pinch-hitter Henry Rodriguez and Peter Bergeron struck out, Vidro singled and took second on the throw home, prompting the Marlins to intentionally walk Vladimir Guerrero.

That brought up Cabrera, who also had a run-scoring single that capped a three-run eighth that made it 6-4. Matt Herges (1-0), acquired from the Dodgers in spring training, got the victory.

Preston Wilson hit a grand slam in the seventh, putting the Marlins ahead, 6-1.

Milwaukee 9, Houston 3--Ben Sheets struck out a career-high eight batters, and Richie Sexson, Tyler Houston and Jose Hernandez each drove in two runs at Houston.

Wade Miller, who won his final seven decisions last season and had been 7-0 against Milwaukee, made his first opening-day start and left in the fifth inning after consecutive homers by Sexson and Geoff Jenkins.

Sheets, a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team two years ago, gave up two runs and nine hits in six innings and walked none.

Miller gave up three or fewer earned runs in 23 of his 32 starts last season but he equaled that in the first inning. He hit the first two batters, threw a wild pitch, gave up a one-out run-scoring single to Sexson and a two-run double to Houston.

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