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Updated: Thursday, May 6, 2004 11:28 PM EDT
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MONTREAL 3, COLORADO 1
 

MONTREAL (Ticker) -- Livan Hernandez dominated the Colorado Rockies , helping the Montreal Expos win their first series of the season.

Hernandez pitched a five-hitter for his first complete game since August 25 as the Expos defeated the Rockies, 3-1, in the rubber game of their three-game series.

"I felt good today," Hernandez said. "I tried not to make too many pitches. That was my best start of the season."

The Cuban righthander made Jeromy Burnitz his seventh strikeout victim on a borderline pitch with runners at second and third to end the game.

"That's the way it goes," Burnitz said. "He was putting it right where he wanted it. You get calls when you locate well. I thought it was inside, but he pitched a great ballgame."

Before the strike out, Todd Helton drilled a two-out single off the top of the right field wall and Vinny Castilla doubled into the left field corner. Expos manager Frank Robinson walked slowly to the mound but did not remove his ace.

"I never give the ball to anybody, and he gave me a chance to complete the game," Hernandez said.

Montreal provided just enough offense for Hernandez (2-2) after going 0-7-1 in their previous eight series. The Expos had not won a series since taking two of three from Cincinnati at the end of last season.

Juan Rivera ripped a two-run double to left-center field in the second inning to give the Expos a 2-0 lead. They added an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI single by rookie Terrmel Sledge , who is 13-for-24 in his last eight games.

"Sledge and Rivera got some big hits for us," Robinson said. "They've been kind of the spark here for us the last few games and hopefully, the other guys can get going."

Montreal had been last in the major leagues in batting (.221), on-base percentage (.276) and slugging (.320).

Starter Scott Elarton (0-5) gave up two runs and six hits in five innings for the Rockies, who have yet to win a series on the road.

Hernandez threw 112 pitches en route to his 32nd career complete game, lowering his ERA to 2.94.

"We battled and we didn't let the game get away from us," Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. "(Hernandez) had command of all three pitches. That's the best I've seen him. He's a cool customer and he knows how to pitch."


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