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Updated: Saturday, April 17, 2004 12:18 AM EDT
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PHILADELPHIA 4, MONTREAL 2
 

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- For the first time in 2004, Jim Thome came through for the Philadelphia Phillies .

Thome recorded his first RBI of the season with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and Pat Burrell hit his first homer and added three RBI as the Phillies posted a 4-2 victory over the punchless Montreal Expos .

Thome's homer, which capped a 4-for-4 night and tied his career-high for hits in a game, added an insurance run for the final margin.

"It's always nice to hit the first one," Thome said. "Especially in that situation, when it added another run."

Eric Milton (1-0) recorded his first win with the Phillies, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Milton retired 13 batters in a row at one point.

"What a great scene and a great ballpark to pitch in," Milton said of Citizen's Bank Park, the Phillies' new home. "I couldn't ask for anything better."

After setup man Tim Worrell pitched two hitless innings, closer Billy Wagner notched his third save with a perfect ninth in a dominating performance that had the crowd of 39,613 roaring every time the radar gun hit the 100 miles-per-hour mark.

"I thought the Flyers scored a goal (but) they weren't playing," Phillies manager Larry Bowa joked. "I guess when he hits the 100 (mph) mark, it's like a standing ovation. I've never seen the fans get revved up over (a 100 mph pitch). I just hope he doesn't blow his arm out trying to top every pitch. He gets pumped up when he comes in."

Wagner began the ninth by striking out Tony Batista on an 89 mph off-speed pitch. He then struck out Brad Wilkerson on a fastball that was clocked at 101 before completely shattering Ron Calloway 's bat on a game-ending groundout to second.

Wagner already has established himself as a fan favorite, receiving standing ovations after entering both of his games at Citizens Bank Park.

"I think my critics are always going to say I overthrow," Wagner said. "There's nothing I can say about it. I just go out there and throw in the direction of (catcher Mike) Lieberthal and hope he catches it.

"Fans get excited over anything. Shoot, they booed me when I threw 99, so what's that tell you?"

Montreal arrived in Philadelphia after being shut out three consecutive times by Florida in Puerto Rico and saw its scoreless streak reach 34 innings before Batista's leadoff homer in the top of the second ended the skid.

But Burrell took advantage of some shaky Montreal defense that helped the Phillies take the lead.

After Wilkerson misplayed Thome's line drive into a single, Burrell put the Phillies ahead with a two-run homer in the bottom half of the second. In the third, his deep fly to right glanced off the glove of Juan Rivera for a single that made it 3-1.

"I thought both plays would have been made," Montreal manager Frank Robinson said.

The Expos closed to 3-2 in the sixth on Batista'a RBI double before Thome restored the two-run margin.

Livan Hernandez (0-1) took the loss, yielding three runs and eight hits in six innings.


© 2005 STATS, Inc
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