<
>

Diaz drives in three in win

ATLANTA (AP) -- Einar Diaz gave the Montreal Expos and manager
Frank Robinson something to smile about.

Diaz, a backup catcher making only his 10th start, drove in his
first three runs of the season, and Montreal beat the Atlanta
Braves 8-4 Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.

"I didn't expect much from him," Robinson said. "He hasn't
been playing much, but he hit tonight like he's been playing on a
daily basis."

It was only the third win in 13 games for the Expos, who have
the worst record in the majors (17-35). Orlando Cabrera, Tony
Batista and Juan Rivera each had three of Montreal's season-high 17
hits.

The Braves, who fell back to .500, failed in their attempt to
match their season high of three straight wins.

The Expos had lost seven straight at Turner Field.

Diaz had run-scoring singles in the third and fourth, and the
Expos scored three runs in each inning off Mike Hampton (1-6). Diaz
added a sacrifice fly in the eighth and finished 2-for-4, raising
his average to .188.

The three RBI matched his career high set last Aug. 3 with
Texas against Cleveland. Diaz, who batted eighth, came to Montreal
in a trade on April 3.

"He gave us some production down there, something we needed,"
said Robinson, who did not indicate whether Diaz would take some
playing time away from starter Brian Schneider.

"But he got my attention tonight," Robinson said.

Diaz admitted playing a limited role makes it difficult to hit.

"I finally hit the ball a little better. I'll take it. It was a
big game for me, but the win was bigger," he said. "It's tough,
but I have to work with it. I'm just happy I did my job tonight. I
got some good pitches to hit and got the runs in."

Expos starter Claudio Vargas (4-3) pitched six innings. He
allowed four hits and four runs, walked four and struck out two.

Chad Bentz, Luis Ayala and Rocky Biddle combined for three
shutout innings.

The Braves scored in the first on a two-out single by J.D. Drew,
who went to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI double by
Johnny Estrada.

Estrada leads the majors with a .537 average (22-for-41) with
runners in scoring position.

Atlanta added a run in the third without a hit. With two outs,
Vargas walked Drew, Estrada and Andruw Jones, then hit Dewayne Wise
in the foot with a pitch, forcing in Drew.

Wise and Mike Hessman hit solo home runs in the sixth off Vargas
to get the Braves to 6-4.

Hampton threw 82 pitches before leaving in the fourth without
getting an out. Jose Vidro led off with a single and went to second
when second baseman Nick Green booted Batista's liner for an error.
Cabrera walked, loading the bases, and Hampton walked Nick Johnson,
forcing in a run and bringing in reliever Antonio Alfonseca.

"I pretty much got my tail kicked," said Hampton, whose ERA
rose to 5.49. "Tonight was pretty ugly. I don't point fingers
except at the guy I see in the mirror every day."

With Alfonseca on the mound, Rivera, who went 3-for-5 and drove
in two runs, bounced into a force, scoring Batista, who was 3-for-6
and scored twice. Diaz added a two-out RBI single for a 6-2 lead.

The Expos scored three times in the third on an RBI double by
Cabrera and run-scoring singles by Rivera and Diaz. Montreal added
two runs in the eighth off C.J. Nitkowski on an RBI double by Brad
Wilkerson and Diaz's sacrifice fly.

Drew robbed Diaz of an extra-base hit with a running,
over-the-shoulder catch just inside the right-field line.

Hampton escaped jams in the first two innings. He also left
runners at second and third in the third after the Expos scored
three times.

Game notes
Hampton threw 68 pitches and Vargas 61 in the first three
innings. ... The Braves made four errors, one in each of the first
four innings. The first three were harmless, but the fourth -- by
Green -- led to two unearned runs. ... Montreal left a season-high
17 runners on. "That's a high number. We should have been able to
put them away with that many baserunners, but I can't complain,"
Robinson said. ... The Expos had 27 baserunners. ... Batista was
thrown out by Drew in the seventh trying to go from first to third
on a single by Cabrera.