Baseball

Expos down Mets in home opener

A noisy crowd of 45,183 saw Orlando Cabrera drive in four runs as the Expos downed the New York Mets 10-6 in Montreal's first home game of the 2001 baseball season.

The loudest applause went to 41-year-old Tim Raines, who returned this season to the Expos, his original club, after a two-year battle with lupus disease.

Raines, who starred for the Expos from 1979 to 1990, had an inspirational at-bat in the second inning with his team trailing 4-0, drawing a walk to load the bases amid a long standing ovation. Cabrera then doubled home three runs off shaken Mets starter Glendon Rusch.

Cabrera added a solo home run to open the fourth off Brian Rose (0-1), who also gave up a solo shots to Peter Bergeron and Michael Barrett.

Barrett also singled in a run, Jose Vidro tripled in a run and Lee Stevens brought in two with sacrifice flies.

Montreal starter Mike Thurman (1-0) also struggled, giving up a two-run homer to Mike Piazza in the first, a pair of runs in the second and Benny Agbayani's solo home run in the fourth.

Mets' right-fielder Timo Perez, who had three hits, had a home run off Guillermo Mota in the sixth -- the first run allowed by the Expos' bullpen this season.

The Expos, who opened the season with a three-game series in Chicago, improved to 3-1 while the Mets dropped to 2-2.

Even though they have had the league's lowest attendance in recent years, the Expos' home opener traditionally draws a large crowd. Last year, more than 51,000 turned out, only to see the crowd dwindle to 12,000 the next game.

"We've got a good young ball club and I hope people come out and see us," Expos main owner Jeffrey Loria said before the game. "But the best marketing is winning baseball and I think we'll have that."

Loria declined to answer what he called "doom and gloom"' questions about the team's uncertain future in the city.

He did say that Montreal has "good, knowledgeable baseball fans" who will turn out to watch a winning club.

As well as Raines, who was replacing injured left-fielder Milton Bradley, Montreal added third baseman Fernando Tatis in the off-season and hope the return of some pitchers from injuries last season will keep them in the playoff race.

"We are in the hunt for the wild card," Loria said.

The Expos are 19-14 in 33 home openers since their inaugural season in 1969. A star from the original team, Rusty Staub, and former all-star catcher Gary Carter each threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

By Bill Beacon

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