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Baseball

Expos 2-for-2 in home openers

©Associated Press
April 23, 2003

MONTREAL -- Back in Canada, the Expos showed off their first-place team to their fans.

Wil Cordero and Jose Vidro homered to back Tomo Ohka, and Montreal beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0 in its other home opener Tuesday night.

"I just want the fans to know that we appreciate them turning out tonight and their support, and we hope they continue to do that the rest of the year," Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. "It was great to see them out there."

The Expos' first 10 "home games" were moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, by the commissioner's office to raise revenue. Montreal will return to the island in June and September for a pair of six-game homestands.

After the Expos won six in the Caribbean, Montreal was welcomed by 36,879, the largest Olympic Stadium crowd since 45,183 went to the 2001 home opener.

Banging the Thunder Stix they were given upon arriving at the 27-year-old domed stadium, Montreal fans welcomed back a franchise that had been slated for elimination after the 2001 season, with Minnesota. Since breaking training camp in Melbourne on March 29, the Expos have flown 5,888 miles.

"Even in Puerto Rico, they're still not our fans," Robinson said. "They were behind us, the majority of them were down there, and they rooted for us, but they're not our fans. We're here in our home ballpark with the home fans out there and that was a great turnout."

Montreal, owned by the other 29 teams, has been an early surprise with a 12-8 record that tops the NL East. The Expos, who won their third straight Olympic Stadium opener, lead the major leagues with four shutouts, one more than their total last season.

"All our starters are doing great," catcher Michael Barrett said. "They're just showing a lot of consistency early on and that's outstanding."

Ohka allowed six hits in 62/3 innings, struck out four and walked three. Joey Eischen, Dan Smith and Scott Stewart combined for three-hit relief. Eischen relieved with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh and got Steve Finley to ground out.

"Our pitching staff is doing great," Cordero said. "That's what is really keeping us where we're at right now."

Arizona rookie Andrew Good made his first major-league start because Randy Johnson was put on the disabled list Monday with a strained right knee. Good gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in 42/3 innings, striking out five.

"I was really pleased with the way Andrew threw the ball," Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said. "Cordero hit a home run on a changeup down low, the home run to Vidro was a hanging changeup, probably the only bad pitch he made the whole game. The bases loaded walk and the little chopper looks like he gave up four runs in 42/3. I think he pitched better than that."

Cordero homered in the second inning and Vidro, who went 3-for-4, homered in the third.

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