Expos beat M's at their own game...again

Seattle lost its fourth-consecutive home game Wednesday, the third time the Mariners have fallen in their past five games.

When the Seattle Mariners returned home after an 11-1 road trip on Tuesday, many sports writers (including myself) across the country dubbed them "the hottest team in baseball."

A local sports radio host even called the 2003 Mariners better than the 116-win team from 2001.

Someone forgot to tell that to the Montreal Expos, who beat Seattle at its own game for the second day in a row Wednesday, 3-1, at Safeco Field in Seattle.

The Expos' (39-26) victory was its sixth in a row, while Seattle (42-21) lost its fourth-consecutive home game.

Nevertheless, the Mariners remained seven-games ahead of Oakland in the American League West standings thanks to a loss by the Athletics in the hands of Atlanta.

In what proved to be a wonderful pitchers duel, Montreal scored its go-ahead run off of Seattle starter Joel Pineiro on a sacrifice fly by Michael Barrett in the seventh inning to make it 2-1.

It was the second day in a row that the light-hitting catcher propelled the Expos over the Mariners. Montreal tacked on another run in the ninth off of Seattle's makeshift closer, Jeff Nelson, for insurance.

Expos' closer Rocky Biddle, who recorded the final out of the eighth inning, mowed the Mariners down in the ninth for his 17th save of the season.

Pineiro (5-5) took the hardluck-loss, despite just two earned runs against him on the night. The right-hander allowed six hits in his 7.1 innings of work.

As solid as Pineiro was, Montreal's Livan Hernandez (6-4) was even better. The 1997 World Series Most Valuable Player with Florida, Hernandez came over from San Francisco in the offseason and has been a pleasant surprise for the Expos.

The 28-year-old veteran scattered seven Mariner hits in seven innings, striking out three along the way, en route to a one-run performance.

Seattle's lone run came off the bat of Mike Cameron, who tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth with his eight homerun of the season.

Montreal got on the board first in the top of the fourth when a Wil Cordero double followed Brad Wilkerson's single, scoring Wilkerson from first.

Wilkerson and outfielder Jose Macias led Montreal with two hits apiece.

Seattle was led by the two hits of Cameron and Ichiro Suzuki.

Game Notes:
Un-Sweet 16: Bret Boone failed to extend his hitting-streak to 16 game after an 0-4 day from the plate. His batting average is at .315 on the year.

Kaz back on the Shelf: Mariners' closer Kazuhiro was placed back on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday after stumbling down a set of stairs upon returning from Seattle's road trip. He was replaced on the roster by Julio Mateo, who was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday to make room for the newly acquired Matt White. Sasaki hadn't allowed an earned run in his past 13 appearances, spanning back to May 8, lowering his ERA to 4.12.

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