Clutch hits send Expos to win over Mariners

Cirillo tallied three hits (Getty Images)

Even without the services of Vladimir Guerrero, the Montreal Expos had enough offense Tuesday to beat Gil Meche and the Seattle Mariners. Joel Pineiro will try to get the M's back in the win column Wednesday when he faces Expos veteran Livan Hernandez.

The next time Gil Meche is due to pitch on the 10th day of the month - no matter what month it is - the 24-year-old right-hander might try to convince Seattle manager Bob Melvin to move his spot in the rotation. Tuesday, the 10th day of June and exactly a month since his last loss, Meche pitched well but nevertheless came down with his third loss of the season as Montreal rallied late to beat Seattle, 7-3, at Safeco Field.

With Meche still in the game, the Mariners appeared to be rolling to another victory when they took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning on a nine-pitch at bat by Jeff Cirillo that ended with a line-drive double down the left field line. Randy Winn scored all the way from first to give Seattle a one-run advantage.

Meche, who's pitch-count was already close to 100 heading into the seventh, returned to the mound to open the inning anyway. He forced the first batter, Fernando Tatis, to ground out, seeming to still be crusing right along. That turned out to be the last out he would get, however.

Brian Schneider singled, and Michael Barrett, who came to the plate batting .143, then lifted a deep double that fell between Mike Cameron and Ichiro Suzuki. That gapper allowed Schneider, the team's designated hitter, to motor all the way around from first and tie the score at three.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa was summoned from the bullpen to replace Meche, who left with the game even and his runner, Barrett, on second base.

Hasegawa got the next batter, Edwards Guzman to ground out for the second out of the inning. Barrett advanced to third on the play.

Needing one more out, Expos' leadoff hitter Endy Chavez stepped to the plate and delivered a single past a diving Carlos Guillen to score Barrett.

That run was credited to Meche, who fell to 8-3 on the season.

Montreal's bullpen shut the M's down the final three innings to preserve the win for Javier Vazquez (6-3).

Vazquez gave up three runs on eight hits through six innings. He struck out seven along the way, twice-fanning both Bret Boone and Edgar Martinez.

The Expos got the benefit of three insurance runs off of Mariners' middle-reliever Giovanni Carrara in the ninth, all coming when Chavez lifted a towering shot just beyond the reach of Ichiro in right field for his third homer of the season.

At 7-3, Seattle never threatened in the ninth.

Luis Ayala (remember that last name?) pitched the final 1.2 innings to record his second save of the season.

Seattle (42-20) was led by the three hits of Cirillo, and the two of Ichiro. The team had nine for the game.

Chavez paced Montreal with a 3-5 day at the plate. Orlando Cabrera, the Expos' up-and-coming shortstop with deceptive power, added two hits, including one of the biggest of the game.

With Montreal trailing 1-0 after Ichiro scored in the first, Cabrera stepped to the dish with two outs in the third inning and a runner on. He battled from a 0-2 count and delivered a two-run homer just over the wall in left-center. The shot, estimated at 394 feet, put the Expos ahead and left Meche and the Mariners a bit shell-shocked.

Seattle tied the game up in the fourth when Winn scored from third on a ground ball to first by Ichiro.


GAME NOTES:
Feelin' the Mojo: Bret Boone's third-inning single extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

Mateo Demoted: Left-handed pitcher Matt White, who was acquired over the weekend from the Boston Red Sox, was added to the 25-man roster before Tuesday's game. To make room for White, the Mariners optioned young righty Julio Mateo to Triple-A Tacoma. Mateo, who beat out J.J. Putz, Ken Cloude and Rafael Soriano for the final bullpen spot out of spring training, pitched well in his 16 outings with Seattle in 2003. He was 1-0 with a 4.18 ERA in 28 innings of work. During that time, he managed 23 strikeouts and eight walks.

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