MONTREAL -- The person directing in-house entertainment at OlympicStadium Tuesday night could have leaned from his booth and asked forrequests.
A pennant race that's attracting little notice in Atlanta andPhiladelphia is causing yawns north of the border.
And it's not stirring much excitement in the visiting clubhouseeither.
With just enough offense to keep their bats from turning over andgoing back to sleep, the Braves stole a win from the Expos when AndruwJones opened the ninth inning by hitting reliever Scott Strickland'sfirst pitch for a 411-foot home run over the center field wall,breaking a tie and giving the Braves a 3-2 win before one of thesmallest crowds (3,613) in Montreal history.
The Braves' third win in a row matched their best streak in almostthree weeks and pushed them three games ahead of the Phillies, 5-3losers to the Mets.
"It was big for morale around here," third baseman Chipper Jonessaid. "So many times when we've gotten behind we haven't come back anddone much."
It was just the Braves' second win in 50 games this season in whichthey trailed after seven innings.
"I don't know how many (comebacks) we've had," manager Bobby Coxsaid, "but it was a good time for it."
Down, 2-1, in the eighth, pinch hitter Ken Caminiti fueled a rallyby leading off with a walk against reliever Britt Reames. Two outslater, Chipper Jones was plunked by a fastball, then pinch runner JesseGarcia and Jones combined on a double steal.
The Expos chose to pitch to Brian Jordan, who tripled in theBraves' first run in the sixth, and when Strickland's pitch got awayfrom catcher Michael Barrett, Garcia sped home with the game-tying run.
"We can run against certain pitchers," Cox said, explaining hisdecision to start the runners. "Any time you can get the winning runon second, it's to our advantage to do it."
There was one ominous note for the Braves. Catcher Javy Lopez leftthe game in the fifth inning after he was struck on the little toe ofhis left foot by pitcher Tony Armas' foul ball. Lopez was inconsiderable pain after the game and will have X-rays today.
The Braves' bullpen held the Expos scoreless over the last 3 1/3innings. Following another solid performance by Jason Marquis (5.2 IP,2 ER), Mike Remlinger, Steve Reed and Steve Karsay (2-3) allowed justtwo runners to reach base, then John Smoltz survived Tim Raines'two-out double in the ninth for his fifth save.
"I wasn't very good today, but I got it done," said Smoltz, whocoaxed an infield out from Jose Vidro to end the game. "I missed mylocation quite a bit, but I got away with it."
The Expos, who were shutout by Tom Glavine Monday, scored theirfirst run of the series in the fourth when Orlando Cabrera led with asingle, and Geoff Blum delivered a double into the right field corner.
In the sixth, Marquis departed after Lee Stevens launched his 22ndhome run, a two-out drive into the right field bleachers to make it2-1, and Barrett followed with a double. Remlinger struck out PeterBergeron to end the inning.
The Braves spent the first five innings squandering one scoringchance after another.
They wasted a walk to B.J. Surhoff and Chipper Jones' single in thesecond. They wasted Jones' leadoff single in the fourth. They wastedLopez's single in the fifth.
Jones triggered a rally in the sixth with a two-out single. Jordanfollowed with a triple off the top of the left field wall, missing ahome run by inches.
"If I'd eaten another Big Mac, it might have gotten out," Jordansaid.
Andruw Jones then finished off the Expos in the ninth, sending afastball deep over the wall, no Big Mac needed.
"The season is almost over, we're just trying to get those gamesthat we can right now," Jones said. "Play good baseball and do thelittle things to win."
Reach Bill Zack at email@example.com.
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