Expos 3, Marlins 2
MONTREAL (AP) _ Even without his best stuff, Pedro Martinez was still better than the Florida Marlins.
``I had to concentrate,″ Martinez said after pitching the Montreal Expos to a 3-2 victory over Florida on Friday night. ``I wasn’t hitting the target with the fastball so I had to work in the other pitches. Every pitch you make in a situation like that, with a one-run lead or a tie ballgame, means a lot.″
Martinez (13-10) struck out seven and walked three in 6 2-3 innings and won for the third time in five starts.
The right-hander got support in solo home runs from Henry Rodriguez and Shane Andrews and a tie-breaking single in the sixth from Rondell White.
The win, Montreal’s third straight, moved the Expos within a half-game of San Diego for the lead in the NL wild-card race.
``It feels good,″ said White, who snapped a tie with a line drive single to center. ``We’ve got to win every game we’ve got left. We can’t look for somebody else to beat San Diego, or L.A. or the Braves. We have to go out and keep playing hard.″
After Martinez tired, relievers Ugueth Urbina and Mel Rojas shut the door. Urbina, a converted starter, allowed a hit in 1 1-3 innings, and Rojas retired three pinch-hitters in the ninth _ Kurt Abbott, Jeff Conine and Andre Dawson _ for his career-high 31st save.
The Expos made the most of their chances, too.
Montreal has managed eight runs and just 10 hits, but has won the first two games of this four-game series.
``That was a big hit by Rondell,″ Expos manager Felipe Alou said of his center fielder. ``We’re still looking for guys to swing the bat well. We’ll have to see if we can pick it up.″
Marlins starter Rick Helling (1-1), who tossed seven innings of four-hit ball against the Expos in his NL debut Sept. 8, held Montreal in check again. The only hits he gave up were home runs _ Rodriguez’s 35th in the first and Andrews’ 18th in the third for a 2-0 lead. He allowed little else until the sixth.
With the game tied at 2, Helling retired the first two batters in the sixth before issuing walks to David Segui and Darrin Fletcher. Kurt Miller relieved and gave up White’s game-winning single.
``It was a shame,″ Marlins manager John Boles said. ``Helling pitched great. He gave up the two solo home runs, but he was doing great.″
Helling, acquired Sept. 3 from Texas in the trade for John Burkett, was charged with three runs and two hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Florida, which lost its third straight, scored twice in the fourth to tie it at 2. Devon White hit an RBI single and another run scored on an error.
Andrews’ homer snapped him out of an 0-for-36 slump following a thumb injury.
``It’s a great feeling,″ said Andrews of the homer, his first hit since Aug. 24 and just his second in 42 at-bats.
Andrews suffered a laceration and contusion to his right thumb when he was hit by a pitch from Ramon Martinez on Aug. 17 at Los Angeles and missed the next six games.
``It (the slump) has been killing me,″ Andrews said. ``I’ve been feeling pretty good. Sometimes it takes a big hit here or there to get things going.″
Notes: The Expos honored Marlins outfielder Andre Dawson in a pregame ceremony. Dawson, who played 11 years in Montreal, is the club’s career leader in home runs (225) and ranks second in doubles (295), triples (67), RBIs (838), at-bats (5,628) and total bases (2,679). Friday marked the 20th anniversary of Dawson’s first major league hit, a single at Philadelphia off Steve Carlton. Dawson received a standing ovation when he pinch-hit in ninth, before flying out to center field to end the game. ... Helling and batterymate Charles Johnson were both members of the 1992 U.S. Olympic team. ... The Marlins are 31-31 since Boles took over as manager at the All-Star break.