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Updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2003 6:20 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Montreal Expos
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
0 4 0
Chicago Cubs
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
3 7 0
W Prior (2-0)
L Vazquez (1-1)
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CHICAGO CUBS 3, MONTREAL 0
 

CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Unfortunately for the Montreal Expos , Mark Prior was even better than Javier Vazquez .

Prior tossed a four-hitter for his first career shutout and drove in a run as the Chicago Cubs overcame a career-high 14 strikeouts by Vazquez to defeat the Expos, 3-0.

"Basically, my approach was to try to get ahead of the hitters today," Prior said. "I had a good breaking ball and fastball and good command. With the (36 degree) weather and the elements working in my favor, it turned out to be a good pitchers' day."

Damian Miller gave Prior all the support he would need, sending Vazquez's first pitch over the wall in left-center field with two out in the second inning for a two-run homer.

"As soon as I hit it I didn't feel it was going to go out," Miller said. "I thought it was going to be caught at the wall but it kept drifting. To be able to do that off of Vazquez was impressive to me, because he just pitched great, just as good as Prior."

Prior (2-0), who retired 16 consecutive batters between the first and sixth innings, helped his own cause in the bottom of the eighth, when he faked a bunt and singled to right field against reliever Luis Ayala to drive in Miller, who had led off with a double. Miller finished 3-for-3 and needed only a triple for the cycle.

The 22-year-old Prior, who was facing the Expos for the first time, struck out 12 batters en route to his second complete game. He has reached double-digits in strikeouts in seven of his 21 career starts.

"This is a push-button managers' day," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Just sit back and enjoy two great pitchers going at each other. The only play I called all day was Prior's fake bunt and single to right, but he's the one that had to do it, not me."

Vazquez (1-1) allowed just five hits over seven innings, surpassing his previous career high in strikeouts by three.

The teams combined for 27 strikeouts without a walk.

"My theory is to be aggressive in the strike zone," Vazquez said. "I was able to change speeds and work quickly. If I could get that pitch back that I threw to Miller, I might have been able to throw a complete game."

"People shouldn't be surprised how good Vazquez is," Montreal manager Frank Robinson said. "In our market, some of the players that we have are a secret to the rest of baseball. This kid, along with Prior, are two of the best pitchers in the game right now."

The Expos, who managed four hits in a 6-1 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday, lost for the fourth time in five games since beginning the season with a three-game sweep in Atlanta.

"This was old-time baseball at its very best," Expos catcher Michael Barrett said. "Two great pitchers, just striking out the ballpark. You hate to be on the losing end of it, but both of these pitchers are special. Just tip your hat and move on."


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