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Expos treat Puerto Rico's fans to rout of Mets

4/11/2003

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The Montreal Expos warmed to Puerto
Rico real fast.

Brad Wilkerson and Brian Schneider homered off David Cone, and
Tomo Ohka allowed one hit in eight innings as Los Expos rolled past
the New York Mets 10-0 Friday night in the first of 22 Montreal
home games in San Juan.

Schneider put the Expos ahead with a two-run shot in the third,
and Wilkerson capped the seven-run inning with his first career
grand slam. Local hero Jose Vidro added a two-run homer off Graeme
Lloyd in the eighth.

"It was perfect," said Vidro, who fought back tears as he
rounded the bases. "If it's going to be like that for the 22 games
that we're going to be here, it's welcome."

New York had just two hits: Cliff Floyd's broken-bat single in
the fourth inning and Roger Cedeno's infield single on a topper in
front of the plate in the ninth.

"We didn't waste anything for tomorrow, that's for sure,"
manager Art Howe said.

Beisbol, island style, began with a crowd of 17,906 in Hiram
Bithorn Stadium, which was expanded to 20,000 seats. It was larger
than the attendance for all but eight Expos games last year at
Montreal's Olympic Stadium, which holds 46,000.

Having a ballpark full of fans was nearly as important to the
Expos as the win.

"I'll take the impression of looking around and seeing all the
seats filled," manager Frank Robinson said.

Fans did the wave, chanted "Let's go Mets!" several times and
"Ole!" They greeted their local stars -- Roberto Alomar and Rey
Sanchez of the Mets, and Vidro -- with standing ovations.

For Vidro,
it was the first time his mother saw him play a major league game.

"I was more nervous today than in my first game in the big
leagues," he said.

There was thumping Latin music and dancers on the field between
innings, and one fan held up a sign that read "Puerto Rico's
Expos," but once the game got going, major league beisbol was just
the same as baseball.

And in a concession to the times, there were police
sharpshooters in the bullpens, watching the fans and the spongy
green artificial turf.

Ohka (1-1) became the first Japanese pitcher to win a game in
Puerto Rico, striking out seven and walking four. Scott Stewart
finished.

"That's as good as I've ever seen him," Howe said of Ohka.
"He had a split and a changeup working."

It was 79 degrees at gametime and the Expos improved to 6-0 when
the temperature is above 40 -- they're 0-4 when it's below. On
Tuesday at Wrigley Field, there was snow on the ivy.

"I like the warm weather better," Ohka said through a
translator.

New York left its bats behind on the mainland, where they
haven't been very potent to begin with. The Mets, who have lost
three straight and four of five, have just 30 runs in 10 games and
are hitting .217. Howe isn't considering juggling the lineup.

"If I have to, I'll do something, but I don't know if we're at
that point just yet," Howe said. "If you're 0-for-4 in one part
of the lineup, you're 0-for-4 in the other part. What's the
difference?"

Cone (1-1) beat Montreal on April 4 for his first victory since
the 2001 season. On Friday, he got the ball up in the small
dimensions of Bithorn -- 398 to center, 315 to left and 313 to right
-- and lost for the first time since Oct. 1, 2001, for Boston at
Tampa Bay.

Cone lasted four innings, allowing seven runs, eight hits and
three walks, one intentional.

"That," he said, "might have been the fastest seven runs I've
given up."

Montreal went ahead in the third when Jose Macias walked leading
off and Schneider homered into the temporary bleachers added in
right field. A single, double and intentional walk loaded the bases
for Wil Cordero, who singled in a run.

Wilkerson nearly fouled out, but the ball dropped in the
expansive foul territory. He then hit a high breaking ball with
nothing on it for his first slam, sending the ball to the top of
the right-field bleachers. Cone just turned to the plate, a
disgusted look on his face.

Game notes
2B Alomar threw out Schneider from his back in the seventh
after diving to stop a grounder in short right. ... There were four
foulouts. ... Prior to Friday, only seven regular-season major
league games had been played outside the 50 states and Canada: a
three-game series between the Mets and San Diego at Monterrey,
Mexico, from Aug. 16-18, 1996, the 1999 opener between Colorado and
San Diego in Monterrey, a two-game series between the Mets and
Chicago Cubs in Tokyo that opened the 2000 season, and the 2001
opener between Texas and Toronto in San Juan.

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