Final in 10

Series: Game 3 of 4

Montreal leads 3-0 (as of 4/13)

Game 1: Friday, April 11
NY Mets0Final
Game 2: Saturday, April 12
NY Mets4Final
Game 3: Sunday, April 13
NY Mets1Final
in 10
Game 4: Monday, April 14
NY Mets3Final

Mets 1

(4-8, 1-5 away)

Expos 2

(8-4, 3-0 home)

    1:05 PM ET, April 13, 2003

    Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico 

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    MON 0000000011 2 6 0

    W: R. Biddle (1-0)

    L: M. Stanton (0-2)

    Vidro hits game-winning shot on hot afternoon

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The Montreal Expos must feel like they're on paradise island.

    The surprising Expos won a hot one Sunday, beating the Mets 2-1 when Orlando Cabrera homered off Armando Benitez leading off the ninth inning and Jose Vidro hit another shot off Mike Stanton on the first pitch of the 10th.

    "This kind of ballgame can put you on a roll,'' Montreal manager Frank Robinson said.

    It was 136 degrees on the field when the game started, and the Expos walked off with a fiery win, mobbing Vidro at home plate as the crowd chanted "Vi-dro! Vi-dro!'' in honor of the Puerto Rican star. Montreal is 3-0 at its new part-time home and has won four straight overall going into Monday's series finale.

    For the Mets, it seems like they're as stranded as Gilligan, hoping someone, anyone, will step up and rescue them. They've lost five straight, dropping four games behind the NL East-leading Expos and falling into last place, where they finished last season. New York (4-8) has scored only 35 runs and is hitting .218 -- just .150 with runners in scoring position.

    While the bats are missing, injuries keep hitting. First baseman Mo Vaughn left in the third inning with an inflamed left knee, and catcher Mike Piazza came out in the ninth after jamming his left foot on first base -- while legging out an infield hit that ended an 0-for-17 skid.

    Cliff Floyd, who strained his right Achilles' tendon Saturday, couldn't run hard to first when he pinch hit with two outs in the ninth and popped out with the bases loaded.

    "If this goes longer, then we're going to go nowhere,'' Roberto Alomar said. "We all know what we need to do. We all know what we're doing wrong. We must hit with runners in scoring position. We must save the games we need to save.''

    Manager Art Howe held a short postgame meeting, telling players he didn't want them to get down.

    "We're being tested early to see what we're made of,'' he said with a stern look.

    Benitez is under the most scrutiny. He converted 33 of 37 save opportunities last season. On Sunday, he blew a save chance for the third time in eight days.

    "I've got my confidence. I know what I can do. More importantly, I know my people believe in me,'' he said, pointing to teammates in the clubhouse. "They know what I can do. This is my family.''

    Even with the wind blowing in, Cabrera hit Benitez's third pitch into the left-field bleachers. Jay Bell went over to console the closer, the first of many teammates who tried to lift his spirits.

    Montreal won it an inning later against Stanton (0-2) when Vidro, one of the team's Puerto Rican stars, golfed a low pitch over the left-field wall for his second homer of the weekend.

    "We're kind of struggling in all facets. We're not getting the big hit, we're not making the big pitch,'' Stanton said. "This is gut-check time.''

    Vidro, meanwhile, heard the cheers from the local fans.

    "I'm just happy that we won the game and it was me who hit the home run,'' he said.

    Rocky Biddle (1-0) pitched two innings of two-hit relief for the win.

    It was the first day game among the 22 shifted from Montreal to San Juan this season. The temperature outside Hiram Bithorn Stadium was 95 at gametime, but it was 41 degrees hotter on the artificial-turf field, which retains heat.

    Some fans used sun umbrellas to create shade, and some Montreal players put towels on their heads as they sat in the dugout during batting practice. The turf was so hot that Alomar put his feet in an ice bucket between innings. Mets starter Al Leiter used two jerseys and four undershirts.

    "I cut down my movements,'' he said.

    Montreal, for those looking for a hot stat, is 8-0 when the gametime temperature is above 40, and 0-4 when it is below.

    Leiter allowed three hits in six shutout innings, but walked four, hit Fernando Tatis with a pitch twice and struck out one. The lefty got help from his fielders, who turned three double plays, and got a lead in the first when Timo Perez doubled and scored on Alomar's single.

    But it didn't hold up. A few more games like this, and the $117 million Mets will sink out of contention.

    "I don't want to think that,'' Leiter said. "Geez, we're two weeks into the season.''

    Game notes

    There was a five-man band playing through the stands, adding some more Latin flavor to the series. The crowd of 16,332 was slightly less than the first two night games, which drew 17,906 and a sellout of 18,264.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press