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Better than average

Garciaparra climbs to .400 as Red Sox defeat Expos

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  Troy O'Leary Troy O'Leary belted a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. AP

BOSTON (AP) -- For a player who doesn't care about his statistics, Nomar Garciaparra keeps piling up impressive ones. Now Troy O'Leary is starting to do that, too.

O'Leary, rejuvenated after a stay on the disabled list, hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh inning, and Garciaparra raised his batting average to .400 while driving in two runs as the Boston Red Sox beat the Montreal Expos 7-3 Monday night.

"Numbers are irrelevant to me. They don't tell me anything," Garciaparra said. "I never liked them. I don't need a stat to tell me if I had a good game."

Garciaparra went 3-for-3 with two walks and got credit for another big number -- the 10,000th homer in Red Sox history.

So what.

"All I care about," Garciaparra said, "is wins and losses."

That's been impressive, too; The Red Sox are 8-3 in their last 11 games. And they moved within a game of the AL East leading New York Yankees, who lost to Philadelphia.

A less impressive number for Expos' pitchers -- eight walks, one wild pitch and one hit batsman -- played a major role in their sixth loss in seven games. They've never won in five games at Fenway Park.

"The two walks in the seventh were very big and so was the home run by O'Leary," Montreal manager Felipe Alou said.

Boston went ahead 5-3 as Morgan Burkhart and Garciaparra received walks from Anthony Telford (5-4) in front of O'Leary's eighth homer of the season against Steve Kline, who took a 2.00 ERA into the game.

Flirting with .400
Latest dates at or above .400 since 1980
Year  Player  Date 
1980  George Brett*  Sept. 19 
1993  John Olerud*  Aug. 2 
1997  Larry Walker  July 18 
2000  Nomar Garciaparra   July 17 
1997  Tony Gwynn*  July 14 
1983  Rod Carew  July 7 
1993  Andres Galarraga*  July 5 
1999  Tony Fernandez  June 29 
1994  Paul O'Neill*  June 16 
1990  Lenny Dykstra  June 10 
2000  Todd Helton  June 10 
1996  Roberto Alomar  June 9 
1986  Wade Boggs*  June 9 
1989  Carney Lansford  June 4 
*won batting title
O'Leary is hitting .237 overall, but since coming off the disabled list July 3 he is hitting .364 with three homers and 13 RBIs. O'Leary was placed on the DL to give him time to deal with personal problems related to divorce proceedings.

Taking time off "was very beneficial," O'Leary said. "I thank the Red Sox for letting me do that."

"Since he's come back, he's been absolutely huge," Boston's Scott Hatteberg said. "It's something we've been missing. He'd done incredibly well."

After Garciaparra led off the two-run second with his 13th homer, O'Leary doubled and scored on Hatteberg's single. Montreal, held hitless for four innings by Jeff Fassero, tied it in the fifth on Fernando Seguignol's second homer and Wilton Guerrero's run-scoring single.

Montreal starter Julio Santana, who issued five walks in 5 2-3 innings, left with a 3-2 lead on Terry Jones' run-scoring double in the sixth. Santana walked Hatteberg and Darren Lewis, the last two batters he faced, but Telford ended the sixth by getting Jeff Frye to fly out.

"I tried to do my best, but the Red Sox don't miss many chances," said Santana, who was released by the Boston organization June 18. "I walked a couple of guys, but I'm not going to give in to anybody."

Garciaparra also singled in a run in the two-run eighth before Carl Everett drew a bases-loaded walk.

Hipolito Pichardo (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings before Derek Lowe struck out the side in the ninth.

Jones, who had just seven RBIs in 59 games, delivered the go-ahead hit with two outs in the sixth off Rich Garces, scoring Lee Stevens, who had singled.

Notes: Garciaparra is the first player since Larry Walker in 1997 to hit .400 this late in the season. Walker was hitting .402 on July 17. ... Fassero allowed three runners in the first four innings on walks to Mike Mordecai and Stevens and a throwing error by shortstop Garciaparra on Jose Vidro's grounder. ... Everett, awaiting a decision on a suspension for twice bumping umpire Ronald Kulpa on Saturday, went 0-for-4. That decision from Frank Robinson, who handles baseball's on-field discipline, could come Tuesday. ... Santana struck out three, two of them in the first inning. ... Montreal lost for just the second time in the 32 games it led after six innings.

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