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A-Rod puts aside boos, homers to help beat Jays

Instead of apologizing about steroids, Alex Rodriguez was swinging for the fences.

Instead of apologizing about steroids, Alex Rodriguez was swinging for the fences.

Taunted and booed by opposing fans in the Yankees' spring training opener, Rodriguez homered and drew two walks Wednesday in a 6-1 victory over Toronto that was anything but routine. Rodriguez then got into an SUV that, according to the New York Post's Web site, was driven by Yuri Sucart - the person identified as the cousin who provided Rodriguez with performance-enhancing drugs.

Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said he couldn't confirm the identity of the driver.

It was Rodriguez's first game since admitting he took banned drugs from 2001-03 with Texas. He left after drawing a walk in the fifth inning, and signed autographs for five minutes before calling it a day.

"When you're playing, it's hard to focus on standing ovations or boos. You're just trying to go out there and do your job," Rodriguez said in Dunedin, Fla. "Again, I didn't see anything that was bad at all."

There were lots of cheers for the three-time AL MVP, a smattering of boos and occasional catcalls from the crowd of 5,014 at mostly filled Dunedin Stadium.

The New York third baseman walked on five pitches in the first inning. Many in the crowd stood and cheered as he circled the bases after hitting a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Ricky Romero in the fourth.

"I'm just excited to be playing baseball," Rodriguez said.

By the third time Rodriguez went to the plate, hecklers who earlier shouted "Hey, A-Rod, where's your cousin?" and "Madonna" were drowned out by applause.

Earlier, manager Joe Girardi talked to Rodriguez during the short ride on the team bus from Tampa to Dunedin, where Yankees fans arrived early and gave A-Rod a polite reception.

Rodriguez is expected to be in the lineup again Thursday, when the Yankees play their first home exhibition against Tampa Bay.

At Fort Myers, Fla., Josh Beckett pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts in his first spring training outing and said he felt fine after a Red Sox split squad beat Boston College 7-1 in a seven-inning game.

"Even though it was a college team, you still have that adrenaline," Beckett said. "It was nice to get out of there and just feel good."

In other news, Cleveland closer Kerry Wood has a sore back. Wood, who has a long history of arm injuries with the Chicago Cubs, hasn't thrown off a mound since last weekend and the Indians will rest him for a few more days before he pitches again.

Minnesota right-hander Boof Bonser is expected to miss the entire season after arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder detected partial tears in his labrum and rotator cuff.

Seattle lefty Ryan Feierabend might need season-ending surgery on his injured pitching elbow.

Colorado lefty Jeff Francis had arthroscopic surgery on his pitching shoulder at a Denver-area clinic and will likely miss the whole season.

Miguel Tejada won't play for the Dominican Republic in next month's World Baseball Classic. Tejada and Astros manager Cecil Cooper said the Dominican team's request that the shortstop play first base during the tournament was a major factor in the decision.

Also, Adrian Beltre wants a few more days to decide whether to defy the Mariners and play for the Dominican Republic in the WBC.

Beltre wants to test his surgically repaired shoulder in a couple of spring training games. The initial test will come Thursday against San Diego, according to Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu.

In other spring training games:

Giants 10 Indians 7


At Goodyear, Ariz., Hall of Famer Bob Feller threw out the ceremonial first pitch and four F-16 fighter jets screamed by in a fly-over as Cleveland christened their new spring training home. First baseman Travis Ishikawa homered twice, Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run shot and NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum worked one scoreless inning for the Giants.

Padres 4 Mariners 3 (10 innings)

At Peoria, Ariz., Jake Peavy breezed through a scoreless inning for San Diego in a tuneup for the World Baseball Classic.

Mets 9 Orioles 3

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Luis Castillo looked more like a cleanup hitter than a leadoff man. In his new role atop the Mets' lineup, Castillo drove in four runs with a single and a double, and New York got three RBIs from Ryan Church.

Marlins 5 Cardinals 5 (10 innings)

At Jupiter, Fla., Hanley Ramirez embraced his move to the third spot in the order, hitting a two-run homer for Florida, which committed four errors.

Astros 6 Nationals 3


At Kissimmee, Fla., Mike Hampton escaped a bases-loaded, none-out jam and worked two scoreless innings in his first outing for Houston since 1999.

Tigers 5 Braves 4

At Lakeland, Fla., Justin Verlander staked an early claim to regain his role as Detroit's ace, throwing two shutout innings.

Pirates 8 Phillies 2

At Bradenton, Fla., Jamie Moyer pitched two scoreless innings, but the World Series champions lost their spring training opener.

Reds 7 Rays 0

At Port Charlotte, Fla., Carlos Hernandez faced major league hitters for the first time in three years and tossed two hitless innings for the AL champs, who opened their new park after moving their spring training headquarters downstate from St. Petersburg.

Angels 12 White Sox 3

At Tempe, Ariz., Mike Napoli hit a two-run double for Los Angeles. The game drew 2,246 fans at Tempe Diablo Stadium, which has a capacity of 9,558.

Cubs 5 Dodgers 3

At Mesa, Ariz., Micah Hoffpauir hit a grand slam for Chicago.

Brewers 3 Athletics 3 (10 innings)

At Phoenix, Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his first appearance with Milwaukee. Corey Hart homered, singled and stole a base for the Brewers.

Rangers 12 Royals 7

At Surprise, Ariz., Josh Hamilton, Hank Blalock and Nelson Cruz homered for Texas. Kris Benson, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2006, allowed one run and two hits in two crisp innings.

Diamondbacks 5 Rockies 3

At Tucson, Ariz., Aaron Cook threw two scoreless innings for Colorado in front of a crowd of 3,327, less than half the capacity for Hi Corbett Field.

Twins 5 Red Sox 2

At Fort Myers, Fla., Glen Perkins pitched two shutout innings to help Minnesota beat Tim Wakefield and a Boston split squad.

 
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