Final

Series: Game 2 of 3

Montreal leads 2-0 (as of 8/14)

Game 1: Friday, August 13
Houston5Final
in 12
Montreal6
Game 2: Saturday, August 14
Houston3Final
Montreal8
Game 3: Sunday, August 15
Houston5Final
Montreal4

Astros 3

(56-60, 27-29 away)

Expos 8

(49-66, 28-29 home)

7:05 PM ET, August 14, 2004

Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Quebec 

123456789 R H E
HOU 000002010 3 4 0
MON 10000250 - 8 14 0

W: T. Tucker (3-1)

L: C. Hernandez (0-1)

Armas, on limited pitch count, holds Astros hitless

MONTREAL (AP) -- After hitting his first grand slam in the National League, Nick Johnson got a chance at his first curtain call.

"I don't remember the last time I got one," Johnson said. "It was fun."

Johnson hit his second career grand slam to cap a five-run seventh, Tony Armas Jr. pitched five hitless innings before leaving because of a high pitch count and the Montreal Expos beat the Houston Astros 8-3 on Saturday night to stretch their season-best winning streak to seven.

Brad Wilkerson also hit a disputed homer leading off the first for Montreal, which still has the second-worst record in the NL at 49-66 but has won 10 of its last 13 games.

"We've seen both sides of the field, playing bad and playing good, so it feels a lot better playing good," said Terrmel Sledge, who hit a tying RBI single in the sixth and scored on Johnson's grand slam one inning later. "

Houston (56-60) dropped seven games behind Chicago in the NL wild-card race. The Astros, who had just four hits, have lost six of seven and eight of 10.

"The offense obviously is struggling, there's just no question," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "We can't seem to get anything rolling, that's for sure. We'll keep picking away."

Armas, pitching for the first time in 18 days and limited to 77 pitches, became the second straight Expos starter to have a hitless outing. He struck out five and walked two.

"I was on a pitch count and you've got to respect that," Armas said.

Jon Rauch held the Astros hitless through 4 2-3 innings Friday before leaving because of a strained left oblique muscle.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the same team's starters had consecutive hitless outings since the New York Yankees' Fritz Peterson went 1 2-3 innings against the Kansas City Athletics in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 29, 1967, and Al Downing lasted one hitless inning the following day.

T.J. Tucker (3-1) inherited -- and lost -- a no-hit bid for the second straight night, retiring two hitters, then allowed Carlos Beltran's double past third base in the sixth.

"Two nights in a row, I mess it up both nights," Tucker said. "But it's two wins. A win's a win."

Beltran's hit became a ground-rule double when a security guard seated in front of the stands beside the bullpen kicked out his left foot and struck the ball.

"I didn't know what he was doing," said Sledge, the left fielder on the play. "He stopped me from running a little bit more."

Jeff Bagwell's two-run homer put the Astros ahead, but Montreal took a 3-2 lead in the bottom half on Sledge's run-scoring single and Einar Diaz's RBI double.

Jose Vidro hit a run-scoring single off Chad Qualls with one out in the seventh, and Johnson hit Montreal's fifth slam of the season.

Wilkerson was awarded a home run in the first off Carlos Hernandez (0-1), who made his first major league start since 2002.

Wilkerson's drive to right-center landed on top of the outfield wall and bounced back onto the playing field. Second-base umpire Dan Iassogna immediately signaled a home run, though replays clearly showed the ball never went out of play.

Garner, who missed Friday's 6-5, 12-inning loss because of a one-game suspension, argued at length with Iassogna, who nearly botched a call the night before when he initially ruled a drive by Lance Berkman past the left-field foul pole a homer before correctly reversing his decision.

"It's not controversial -- it's not a home run," Garner said. "The only guy in the world that saw it as a home run was the umpire and he refused to ask anybody else, and I don't understand that. Maybe he was mad because he got reversed last night when he missed it but he's 0-for-2 on home runs right here."

Hernandez, who missed last season while recovering from shoulder surgery, allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings.

"It felt good from the first to the last inning," Hernandez said. "I really hate it because Baggy hit the two-run homer and I was just trying to keep the team in the game, but after that inning, I was really disappointed."

Game notes


Hernandez made 22 starts for Triple-A New Orleans this season, going 9-4 with a 3.61 ERA. ... Wilkerson's homer was his fourth leading off a game this season, his first since July 1 at Philadelphia. ... Johnson's other grand slam came Aug. 8 last year against Seattle for the Yankees.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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