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Hernandez throws six-hitter

5/16/2004

PHOENIX (AP) -- Livan Hernandez likes to finish what he starts.

The Montreal right-hander pitched a six-hitter for his second
complete game in 10 days, helping the Expos beat the Arizona
Diamondbacks 6-1 on Sunday and complete their first series sweep of
the season.

"I try to stay long in the game," said Hernandez, 3-0 in his
last six starts. "I work hard every five days, so I don't want to
pitch only five innings. So I try to stay in the game longer. My
reputation is I can throw a lot of pitches."

Hernandez (3-2) threw 124, including 83 strikes. He walked two
and struck out seven for his 33rd complete game as the Expos tied a
season high with their third win in a row.

"We lost a five-run lead for him in Milwaukee," catcher Brian
Schneider said, referring to Hernandez's last start on Tuesday.
"He should be 2-0 on this road trip, and I'm glad we got him the
win."

Schneider hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the fourth inning
off Steve Sparks to give the Expos a 3-1 lead.

Sparks (2-3) took the loss, Arizona's season-high fifth straight
at home, matching its worst overall skid this year. Sparks allowed
four runs on six hits and one walk in six innings, striking out
two.

"We continue to try to put guys in situations where we think
they can do something to help us win a ballgame and, more often
than not, it hasn't worked out," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said.

Jamey Carroll, a defensive replacement for Andy Fox at second
base in the seventh, made it 4-1 with a run-scoring single.

Tony Batista and Juan Rivera added RBI singles in the eighth
against reliever Mike Koplove, whose fielding error allowed Orlando
Cabrera to start the inning by reaching first.

Arizona's only run off Hernandez, who improved to 4-2 in seven
starts in Phoenix, came on a sacrifice fly by Chad Tracy.

"He was outstanding," manager Frank Robinson said. "He knows
how to pitch, mixes his pitches, mixes in the speeds, keeps the
hitters off-balance and throws strikes most of the time."

Hernandez had to work out of a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the
sixth after a single by Tracy, a walk to Matt Kata and a single by
Luis Gonzalez. Terrmel Sledge's throw from right field held Tracy
at third.

Arizona cleanup hitter Steve Finley, who doubled two innings
before, popped up to catcher Schneider near the Diamondbacks
dugout, and Carlos Baerga grounded into a 6-3 double play to kill
the threat.

The inning was eerily similar to the eighth inning Saturday
night, when Arizona loaded the bases with one out and Shea
Hillenbrand grounded into a double play off reliever Luis Ayala.

Hernandez retired six of seven batters before Alex Cintron led
off the third with a triple into the gap. An out later, Tracy
sliced a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Diamondbacks a
short-lived 1-0 lead.

Sparks got two outs before Sledge walked, Matt Cepicky singled
and Schneider lofted a fastball 394 feet into the swimming pool in
right-center field, where a fan jumped in for the souvenir.

"I've always wanted to hit it in that pool," Schneider said.

It was the 29th splashdown homer in the seven-year-old ballpark,
and the first since San Francisco's Jose Cruz Jr. hit one on July
13.

"I didn't want to throw a fastball there with a one-run game
and Hernandez pitching, but I would say the first two pitches to
him I had a mental lapse," Sparks said.

Game notes
Hernandez's first complete game this season came in a 3-1
victory on May 6, against Colorado. ... Schneider also rallied the
Expos to a tie with a two-run homer Friday night. He has 102 RBI
in the past two-plus seasons. ... The Expos have won three of their
last four series, but had no sweeps. They started 0-7-1 in eight
series. ... The Diamondbacks completed a 10-game homestand at 2-8,
and now have 13 consecutive road games.