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Castilla's Heroics Lift Rockies

Vinny Castilla stole the closer's role from Ugueth Urbina.

Castilla hit his 37th homer with two outs in the top of the ninth inning off Urbina, lifting the Colorado Rockies to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Expos Friday night.

"I was just looking to hit the ball hard and make solid contact," Castilla said. "It's fun when you win, that's the bottom line."

Castilla's homer sent Montreal to its ninth loss in 11 games.

"Usually when you get those guys, it's in a big situation," Castilla said about facing Urbina. "It's special because we won the game. He's one of the toughest closers in the game."

Dave Veres (1-1) got four outs for the victory as the Rockies won their sixth straight over the Expos. Montreal put the tying run at third but pinch-hitter Robert Perez popped out to Veres.

Trailing 2-1 in the eighth, the Expos tied it when Chris Widger singled home F.P. Santangelo from third.

"We battled," Widger said. "We had a chance to win with the tying run on in the ninth. We didn't get him in but we had chances and we put ourselves in a position to win. We just didn't get the big hits when we needed them."

Colorado had gone ahead in the top of the inning against reliever Mike Maddux when pinch-hitter Jeff Reed drove in pinch-runner Curtis Goodwin from third with a one-out single past a drawn-in infield.

Rockies starter Jamey Wright allowed only an unearned run while pitching seven innings of four-hit ball. He struck out three and walked two.

"I knew I was going to have a good one," Wright said. "I just had to try not to be too perfect."

Montreal's Orlando Cabrera singled to open the third, advanced to second on a sacrifice and took third on a flyout. He scored as Terry Jones reached safely when first baseman Todd Helton dropped Wright's last-second toss to first for an error. Wright had missed attempting to tag out Jones on a slow roller to the right of the mound.

"I was two feet away and threw it right at his belt," Wright said. "It probably should have been my error, so I felt bad."

The Rockies tied it 1-1 in the fifth when Neifi Perez led off with his eighth triple and scored on Castilla's one-out sacrifice fly.

Expos starter Carl Pavano allowed one run and five hits in six innings. The rookie right-hander walked two and tied his career-high with six strikeouts, the third time he has struck out six this season.

Notes:

  • Colorado's Larry Walker missed his third straight start with a sprained right middle finger.
  • Both teams committed two errors apiece as Montreal increased its total to 123, worst in the majors.
  • Castilla played his 214th game in a row and Perez played his 199th to extend the third and fourth longest consecutive ame streaks in the majors behind Cal Ripken and Albert Belle.
  • All five members of Montreal's starting rotation Pavano, Dustin Hermanson, Mike Thurman, Javier Vazquez and Jeremy Powell are products of the 1994 June draft. Thurman, Vazquez and Powell were each selected by the Expos while Hermanson was San Diego's first-round pick (third overall) and Pavano was Boston's 12th pick in the 13th round.

    ©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed