The Expos registered the first score in the opening inning. Endy Chavez led off the game with a ringing double against Pedro Astacio. Endy came around to score following groundouts by Jamey Carroll and Vlad for an early 1-0 lead.
Montreal went up 2-0 in 5th inning when third baseman Fernando Tatis doubled and later scampered home on a sacrifice fly by Brad Wilkerson. The Mets came close to tallying in the bottom of the inning when Astacio singled, and Roger Cedeno doubled. But Astacio failed to slide and was nailed at the plate to end the inning.
In the sixth, Chavez hit his first big league homerun and the Expos led 3-0. With starter Javier Vazquez throwing bullets, it appeared that Montreal had the game well in control. However, the Mets narrowed the gap in the bottom of the sixth when Mo Vaughn hit his 25th homer of the season. In the seventh, Vance Wilson doubled and came around on a single by Joe McEwing. The Mets trailed only 3-2.
Both Vazquez and Astacio pitched outstanding games. Neither pitcher allowed a walk in seven innings of work. Astacio limited Montreal to four hits, easily his best start in over a month. This perhaps gives a glimmer of hope to Mets fans as what to expect from Pedro next season.
It appeared that Montreal would still win the game as they took their lead into the bottom of the ninth. Edgardo Alfonzo walked and stole second. Vance Wilson singled to right, but Alfonzo had to hold at third, as coach Matt Galante was taking no chances against the arm of Vlad the Impaler. With Brady Clark apparently struck out to end the game, what should have been the final pitch of the game was called a ball by umpire Jerry Crawford. Given a second life, Clark then grounded meekly to first and Galarraga decided to go to second for the game-ending force. He threw wildly and Alfonzo crossed with the tying run.
After Montreal reliever Dan Smith bailed the Expos out in the tenth inning, when he inherited a 2-0 count on Mo Vaughn with two on and none out, and proceded to fan him, he was victimized by youngster Snead one inning later. It was a huge day for Esix who had singled earlier for his first big league hit. Armando Benitez (1-0) recorded the win, incredibly his first decision of 2002, and the Mets improved to 74-80, still with a slim hope of finishing at .500 for the season.
The clubs will complete their seasonal series on Sunday. Al Leiter (13-11) will oppose newcomer Sun-Woo Kim of the Expos.
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