Expos clinch first winning season since 1996

NEW YORK (AP) -- Vladimir Guerrero neared a personal milestone
and moved the Montreal Expos a step closer to a team one as well.

Guerrero closed in on joining the 40-40 club, hitting his 38th
homer and stealing his 40th base Sunday to lead Montreal to a 5-1
victory over the New York Mets.

"Every year he gets better and better,'' teammate Michael
Barrett said. "He's consistently an amazing player. Only a handful
of guys have that kind of talent.''

Endy Chavez extended his hitting streak to 12 games and Barrett
added an RBI double for the Expos (79-77), who have won eight of
nine and need three wins in their final six games to guarantee
their first winning season since 1996.

"It's been a while since this organization finished on the
positive side,'' manager Frank Robinson said. "It's important to
us. It might not be important to other people, but it's a big deal
to this ballclub.''

Sun-Woo Kim left after 4 1-3 scoreless innings -- two outs shy of
his first win with Montreal -- with a cramp in his right leg.

Zach Day (4-1) allowed one unearned run and two hits in 4 2-3
scoreless innings for the win. Day, who has struggled with his
control this season, only walked one batter.

"He did exactly what we needed him to,'' Robinson said. "He
got into a groove, threw strikes and made them swing the bats. With
a five-run lead, that's what you need to do.''

The loss assured the last-place Mets (74-81) of their first
non-winning year since 1996, when manager Bobby Valentine took over
at the end of a 71-91 season.

Guerrero walked and stole a base in the third inning and hit a
two-run homer in the fifth against Al Leiter (13-12).

Guerrero is racing Alfonso Soriano of the Yankees to become the
fourth 40-40 player in history, joining Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez
and Jose Canseco. Soriano is one homer shy of the mark.

The Expos got on board in the second on Barrett's double. It
looked like Leiter would get of the inning when he got Kim to hit a
grounder to shortstop Rey Ordonez with two outs and runners on
first and third.

Ordonez charged the slow roller and it got under his glove for
an error, allowing a run to score. Ordonez, a three-time Gold Glove
winner, made another error in the seventh, giving him 19 this
season -- his most since committing 27 as a rookie in 1996.

After Jamey Carroll singled to lead off the fifth, Guerrero
homered to left field for just his third hit in 32 career at-bats
against Leiter. Guerrero has only three homers in his past 29 games
as he nears the 40-homer mark.

"I think he's trying a little too hard,'' Robinson said. "If
he relaxes it will happen. He's so strong and powerful.''

Leiter struggled once again pitching during the day, dropping to
5-6 with a 5.45 ERA. At night, he's 8-6 with a 1.94 ERA.

"I think it takes me out of my comfort level and routine I
guess,'' he said. "I think it just feels different.''

Kim was cruising to his first win when he suddenly cramped up
after Roberto Alomar fouled off a 3-1 pitch.

Trainers came out to attend to Kim, who was replaced by Day. Kim
allowed five hits and three walks.

The Expos added a run in the sixth on Carroll's RBI double off
Grant Roberts.

Leiter allowed four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in five

"I didn't think he had that extra pop,'' Valentine said. "It
happens late in the season sometimes. But he's pitched some really
great games late in the season, too.''

Game notes
Montreal once again played without SS Orlando Cabrera and
2B Jose Vidro. Cabrera was late to the park Saturday and was
benched by Robinson. Vidro left the team Friday to attend to
personal business and returned during the game. ... The Mets lead
the majors with 142 errors. ... Leiter ran to first after ball
three in the second inning, thinking he had walked. When 1B Andres
Galarraga told him the count was still 3-2, Leiter put his hands on
his helmet in embarrassment. Leiter ended up reaching first when he
hit an infield single. ... Guerrero is the first Expo since Delino
DeShields and Marquis Grissom in 1993 to steal 40 bases in a year.
... Mets 1B Mo Vaughn was scratched with a sore left knee.