Series: Game 1 of 3

Montreal leads 1-0 (as of 6/23)

Game 1: Monday, June 23
Game 2: Tuesday, June 24
Game 3: Wednesday, June 25

Pirates 0

(31-42, 18-19 away)

Expos 3

(42-34, 25-13 home)

    7:05 PM ET, June 23, 2003

    Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Quebec 

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    MON 01200000 - 3 8 0

    W: C. Vargas (4-3)

    L: J. Suppan (5-7)

    S: R. Biddle (20)

    Vargas allows just three hits in eight innings

    MONTREAL (AP) -- Rookie Claudio Vargas learned some things the last time he pitched against the Pittsburgh Pirates -- and it showed.

    Vargas allowed three hits in eight innings and Edwards Guzman hit his first home run in nearly two years, leading the Montreal Expos to a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh on Monday night.

    Making his 11th start since he was recalled from Triple-A Edmonton on April 24, Vargas (4-3) allowed singles to Aramis Ramirez and pitcher Jeff Suppan, and a double to Matt Stairs.

    The 24-year-old Dominican allowed seven hits and two runs in 7 1-3 innings last Wednesday in Pittsburgh, and didn't figure in the decision in a 4-3 loss in the second game of a doubleheader.

    "Today I think was the best game I threw," Vargas said. "Last time, when I pitched in Pittsburgh, they swung a lot. Today I tried to keep the ball down and on the corners of the plate."

    Vargas, acquired from Florida along with Cliff Floyd last July 11, was perfect in the first, fourth and fifth. He walked one, hit two batters with pitches and struck out two, matching his longest outing.

    "He threw 93 (mph) to 96 -- that's got a lot to do with it," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He's got good stuff. He kept his breaking ball down tonight and didn't make a lot of mistakes in the middle of the plate. The young man threw a good game."

    Guzman, whose contract was purchased from Edmonton on June 7, connected off Suppan (5-7) with one out in the third for his first homer since Aug. 9, 2001, with San Francisco at Cincinnati.

    "He puts the bat on the ball and has an idea up there," Expos manager Frank Robinson said.

    Rocky Biddle pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances, allowing one walk to complete Montreal's NL-leading seventh shutout of the season.

    The Expos, who won for just the third time in their last 11 games, had only three shutouts last year.

    Pittsburgh, which lost its second game in a row, had won six of eight.

    "If you're a baseball fan, that's a good game to watch," Pirates catcher Jason Kendall said. "Both guys were on, unfortunately for us they got those runs early."

    Montreal opened the scoring in the second. Ron Calloway drew a two-out walk and scored on Brian Schneider's RBI double.

    After Guzman's homer made it 2-0, Orlando Cabrera tripled and scored on Jose Vidro's single to put the Expos up by three.

    Suppan allowed eight hits and three runs in seven innings, giving Pittsburgh's weary bullpen a much-needed break. In addition to the doubleheader last week against Montreal, the Pirates played consecutive 15-inning games against Cleveland on Friday and Saturday.

    "We need to rest our bullpen and he certainly came up big for us," McClendon said. "Hopefully, everybody's cleaned up and they'll be ready to go."

    Game notes

    The Pirates recalled RHP Duaner Sanchez from Triple-A Nashville. Sanchez was 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA in 27 relief appearances for Nashville this season. ... The three-game series at Olympic Stadium is the Pirates' only road trip in a stretch of 15 of 18 games at home until July 7, when they begin a six-game trip to Milwaukee and Houston before the All-Star break. ... Vidro returned to the lineup after he was rested in Sunday's 4-2 loss to Toronto.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press