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Reds lose season finale to Expos, 7-2

MONTREAL -- After leaving Olympic Stadium virtually empty the past few years, Montreal Expos fans made sure to show up for this season's finale.

After all, it might have been their last chance to say goodbye.

Possibly playing their final game in Montreal, the Expos beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 Sunday before a crowd of 25,178 -- the third-largest of the year at The Big O.

Lines formed at ticket windows an hour before the start, and there was live music in the lobby. The scoreboard showed grainy highlights of the team's first game in 1969.

''When the fans come out, it's just an amazing feeling in this ballpark,'' Expos rookie Brad Wilkerson said.

The crowd cheered wildly for star slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who fell one home run short of a 40-40 season. In fact, the only time the fans showed frustration came in the eighth inning, after Guerrero was called out on a check swing in his final at-bat.

Plastic bottles, paper cups and a baseball were thrown onto the field. The Reds came off and waited out a 6-minute delay in their dugout.

''I didn't want him to hit it -- I'd have liked to throw him another pitch, put it that way,'' Cincinnati manager Bob Boone said.

The Expos, owned by the other 29 major league clubs, might be relocated this winter. They would become the first franchise to move since the expansion Senators left Washington following the 1971 season to become the Texas Rangers.

Washington; Portland, Ore.; and Puerto Rico have been mentioned as possible destinations.

If the Expos go, it won't be without leaving some lasting memories. There's more baseball history in this hockey town than most people realize.

Jackie Robinson played minor league ball here. Pete Rose got his 4,000th hit.

Notes: Walker had 183 hits in 612 at-bats, finishing the season with a .2990 batting average. … Hitting coach Jim Lefebvre is the only member of the Reds' coaching staff who won't return in 2003. Coaches Jose Cardenal, Don Gullett, Tom Hume, Ray Knight, Tim Foli and Mark Berry signed contracts Sunday to return next season.