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Guerrero moves closer to obtaining 40-40 season

9/21/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- With Vladimir Guerrero chasing a 40-40 season,
Mike Piazza and the New York Mets didn't have much chance to keep
him from running all over the basepaths.

Guerrero had three steals and Tony Armas Jr. pitched into the
eighth inning as the Montreal Expos won their seventh straight game
Friday night with a 6-1 victory over the Mets.

Taking advantage of poor-throwing catcher Piazza and starter
John Thomson (9-13), Guerrero pushed his season total to 39 stolen
bases. He has 37 homers, leaving him well within range of the rare
40-40 mark.

"It's just a coincidence that we were playing them,'' Guerrero
said through a translator. "We don't have that many games and we
have to do whatever we can. We're going to have to wait, because
the home runs are not there yet.''

Before the game, Mets general manager Steve Phillips denied
there is widespread drug use on the team following a report that at
least seven players smoked marijuana this season.

"In my opinion, there is not rampant drug use on our major
league roster,'' Phillips said.

Guerrero went 2-for-3 with two intentional walks, an RBI and a
run scored, giving him 100 runs for the fifth time -- a team record.
The Expos, looking to finish second in the NL East, won eight in a
row earlier this season.

"I hope before it's over, he gets it,'' Montreal manager Frank
Robinson said of Guerrero. "It's a great achievement. He deserves
it. He plays every day. He plays hard.''

New York had its three-game winning streak snapped. The Mets had
won six straight at Shea Stadium following an NL-record 15-game
home losing skid.

Armas (11-12) gave up nine hits in seven-plus innings to improve
to 3-0 in his last four starts.

"He's got a big league arm,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine
said. "Exploding fastball and a disappearing slider.''

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the second when Edgardo Alfonzo led
off with a bloop double and scored on Raul Gonzalez's single.

Guerrero tied it with an RBI single in the third.

More bad defense by the Mets helped the Expos take the lead in
the fifth. Endy Chavez led off with a single and went to second
when the ball kicked off right fielder Jeromy Burnitz's knee for an
error.

With runners at first and third, first baseman Mo Vaughn booted
Matt Cepicky's grounder for another error that allowed Chavez to
score.

"We're going through so much all the way around, to wake up in
the morning and see that, too, was kind of crazy,'' Vaughn said.
"I can't honestly say that was a distraction. I know what I have
to work on. I don't make any excuses.''

Orlando Cabrera hit an RBI single, and Michael Barrett added a
run-scoring double down the third-base line to make it 4-1.

"We had plays we could make, and if we make them they probably
don't score,'' Valentine said. "We gave them too many outs.''

Vaughn made two of three errors by the Mets, who lead the majors
with 140.

"I'm not shocked. I've seen them all,'' Valentine said.

Jamey Carroll tripled with one out in the sixth, and Guerrero
was intentionally walked. Mets reliever Pat Strange, worried that
Guerrero would take off again, balked on a pickoff attempt,
allowing Carroll to score.

Batting in front of Guerrero, Carroll went 3-for-4 with an RBI
single in the eighth and two runs scored. He's hitting .424 since
being called up from Triple-A Ottawa on Sept. 10.

"Hitting in front of these guys, obviously I'm going to get
some good pitches to hit, and it's gone better than I would have
hoped coming up to this level,'' Carroll said.

Thomson allowed four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in
five innings. He is 2-5 in eight starts for the Mets since being
acquired in a trade with Colorado on July 31.

Game notes
The Expos have three winning streaks of at least six games
this season. Last year, their best string was four games. ... Armas
does not have a complete game in 80 career starts. ... Montreal
improved to 4-0 on a six-game road trip, its first winning trip
since April 5-14. ... Mets RHP David Weathers began serving a
two-game suspension for hitting a batter with a pitch in Colorado.