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Updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2004 12:43 AM EDT
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MONTREAL 8, CHICAGO CUBS 0
 

MONTREAL (Ticker) -- Brad Wilkerson did not wait very long to give Montreal manager Frank Robinson a present on his 69th birthday.

Wilkerson hit his seventh leadoff homer this season and Livan Hernandez allowed three hits in eight innings to lead the Expos to an 8-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs .

"I didn't see a diamond-studded wrist watch or anything like that, but I'll take the win," Robinson said. "It's a nice gift, yeah, a nice present and it was great to jump out on (Chicago starter Mark) Prior."

After Hernandez retired the side in the first, Wilkerson had his team-leading 26th home run in the bottom half to start a four-run rally.

"Against a pitcher like that you're just trying to make good contact," Wilkerson said. "He (Prior) made a mistake. It feels good to hit one to center field like that."

Since moving to the top of the order, Wilkerson has hit .265 (77-for-291) with 20 home runs.

"I'm just seeing the ball good, not swinging at too many bad pitches," Wilkerson said. "When I get my pitch to hit I'm not missing. That's the key - not swinging at bad pitches."

Endy Chavez followed Wilkerson's blast with a single up the middle but Prior struck out the next two batters. Juan Rivera worked out a walk and Alex Gonzalez had a two-run double down the right field line. Brian Schneider added a two-base hit to give the Expos a 4-0 lead.

"I would have liked to come out of it with just a one-run deficit," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of the first inning. "But the gates opened up and Mark had a tough time."

Pitching eight or more innings for the seventh time in his last nine starts, Hernandez (10-12) struck out three and issued four walks while throwing 73 of his 122 pitches for strikes. After surrendering a combined 10 runs in his last two starts, he halted a personal three-game winless streak and has now won 10 or more games in five straight seasons.

"If he'd wanted to pitch it (ninth inning), he would have pitched," Robinson said.

"I didn't want to pitch the ninth," Hernandez said. "The last two starts were a little tough for me and I didn't want to go out in the ninth and do something. Maybe they score one or two runs and I'm not going to feel good. I feel good with an eight-inning shutout and it made me more comfortable for the next time I pitch.

In the ninth, T.J. Tucker struck out a batter to help Montreal halt a three-game losing streak.

Maicer Izturis slugged his first career home run in the fourth inning and added a run-scoring groundout in a three-run seventh.

"I'm trying to the best that I can and I'm trying not to change anything that I did in Class AAA," Izturis said. "Everything is good right now and I'm trying to finish the season strong."

Prior struck out eight but surrendered five runs and six hits in five innings.

"I just didn't execute pitches," Prior said. "I felt good coming out of the gate, I just had a tough time with the control early on and they came out bashing.


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