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Updated: Sunday, July 11, 2004 5:09 PM EDT
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MONTREAL 2, PITTSBURGH 1
 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Ticker) -- In the Montreal Expos ' final game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, Scott Downs recorded his first win in nearly four years.

Downs gave up an unearned run in seven innings and Terrmel Sledge had a hand in both runs as the Expos edged the Pittsburgh Pirates , 2-1, to complete their two-year Puerto Rico experiment.

Only 8,101 attended the Expos' 43rd and final game at their home away from home. Behind Downs and Sledge, Montreal raised its record in Puerto Rico to 20-23.

"There were more positives than negatives," Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "It was a good experience coming back here and meeting with old friends and guys I used to play with. The travel isn't easy, but overall it was good for the club."

"It's tough," Montreal catcher Brian Schneider added. "It's not a home game, it's a road game when we play here. We just get the last at-bat."

Downs (1-3) yielded just five hits and two walks while striking out five for his first win since July 17, 2000 as a member of the Chicago Cubs .

"My goal was to go out, keep the team in the game," said Downs, who underwent " Tommy John " surgery in 2001. "Thankfully, I had good defense behind me and we got a win with teamwork."

In his last two starts, the 28-year-old lefthander has not given up an earned run in 13 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA from 18.00 to 4.91.

"Downs is starting to feel more at ease on the mound, more relaxed, and he's getting different results," Robinson said. "I didn't know what to expect. I had heard he pitched well at Triple-A and everyone had good things to say about him. But before we jump on the bandwagon and put him in Cooperstown, I would like to see a little more."

Luis Ayala pitched a hitless eighth and Chad Cordero worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his seventh save.

Sledge drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and scored Montreal's first run on a fielder's choice by James Carroll.

One inning later, Tony Batista led off with a double against Pirates starter Josh Fogg (6-7), moved up on a forceout by Orlando Cabrera and scored on a fielder's choice by Sledge.

"Bases loaded three times and we only scored twice. That's not the way we drew it up in spring training," Robinson said. "It was a game of give and take, but we'll take it and get out of town."

Fogg was the hard-luck loser after allowing two runs and four hits in six innings with three walks and a strikeout.

"Sometimes the problem is not the staff, it's the performance on the field," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "In my book, it's a (crappy) performance."

Pittsburgh grabbed the lead in the second as Rob Mackowiak scored on an error by Carroll at second base.


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