Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chavez homers to back Arroyo's D-backs debut

Eric Chavez hit the first home run at Cubs Park, a two-run shot in the fifth, and Paul Goldschmidt added a two-run single in the sixth to lift the D-backs to a 5-2 win over the Cubs on Thursday, spoiling the North Siders' Cactus League opener at their new stadium.

The game drew a Cactus League-record crowd of 14,486, breaking the mark of 13,721 set last March 23 between the Dodgers and White Sox in Glendale.

Bronson Arroyo, making his first start for Arizona, gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits over three innings.

"I think anybody who's a new guy on a ballclub wants to produce at least a little bit just to let people know you're not over the hill or whatever it may be," Arroyo said.

This was not only the first game at Cubs Park, but Rick Renteria's first as a Major League manager.

"It feels just like another game," the Cubs' new skipper said. "We're getting ready for the season and today's the first day of basically a test to see how everybody's doing. We're going to use [Spring Training] to see what aspects of the game we need to improve on and basically see where everybody's at."

So no butterflies?

"No," Renteria said, smiling.

Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija may have had a few. He walked leadoff batter Gerardo Parra but settled down and did not give up a run over two innings. The Cubs' Opening Day starter last season, Samardzija was up for the test.

"It was good to come out and face these guys," Samardzija said of the D-backs. "I've faced them a lot the last few years. I know they make me work. They see pitches and make you throw in the zone -- they don't get themselves out. They have a nice lineup one through nine."

Emilio Bonifacio tripled to lead off the Chicago first and scored on Luis Valbuena's groundout. With two outs in the third, Valbuena reached on a passed ball by catcher Miguel Montero on strike three, then scored on Starlin Castro's double.

Jeter goes 0-for-2 as Yankees fall to Pirates

Gregory Polanco and Mel Rojas Jr. homered on Thursday, leading the Pirates past the Yankees, 8-2, in a contest that was highlighted by Derek Jeter's spring debut.

Planco gave the Bucs an early lead with a solo shot off David Phelps in the first inning. Rojas broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run shot off Robert Coello in the eighth, highlighting a five-run frame for Pittsburgh.

Matt Hague also drilled a two-run single off Coello as the Pirates improved to 2-0 this spring, spoiling the Yankees' Grapefruit League home opener at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Jeter started at shortstop and went 0-for-2 at the plate, playing in his first game of any kind since last Sept. 7. He grounded into a double play after working an eight-pitch at-bat in the first inning, then legged out a groundout to third base in the fourth inning. Brendan Ryan replaced Jeter at short in the top of the sixth.

Jeter showed no signs of favoring his surgically repaired left ankle, a good sign for a Yankees team that is counting on Jeter to be its Opening Day shortstop in what will be his final Major League season.

Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton started his spring with two innings of scoreless, no-hit work. Morton walked one and struck out one. Jeff Locke followed with a pair of scoreless frames, pitching around a Brett Gardner infield single.

Phelps recorded four strikeouts -- all looking -- in two innings of work, scattering two hits with no walks, as he kicks off a bid to serve as the Yankees' fifth starter.

The Yankees tied the game in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Francisco Cervelli and Kelly Johnson. Chris Dickerson gave the Pirates a lead with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, and John Ryan Murphy answered with a run-scoring single in the home half of the inning.

Polanco, Rojas homer as Pirates top Yanks

Gregory Polanco and Mel Rojas Jr. homered on Thursday, leading the Pirates past the Yankees, 8-2, in a contest that was highlighted by Derek Jeter's spring debut.

Planco gave the Bucs an early lead with a solo shot off David Phelps in the first inning. Rojas broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run shot off Robert Coello in the eighth, highlighting a five-run frame for Pittsburgh.

Matt Hague also drilled a two-run single off Coello as the Pirates improved to 2-0 this spring, spoiling the Yankees' Grapefruit League home opener at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Jeter started at shortstop and went 0-for-2 at the plate, playing in his first game of any kind since last Sept. 7. He grounded into a double play after working an eight-pitch at-bat in the first inning, then legged out a groundout to third base in the fourth inning. Brendan Ryan replaced Jeter at short in the top of the sixth.

Jeter showed no signs of favoring his surgically repaired left ankle, a good sign for a Yankees team that is counting on Jeter to be its Opening Day shortstop in what will be his final Major League season.

Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton started his spring with two innings of scoreless, no-hit work. Morton walked one and struck out one. Jeff Locke followed with a pair of scoreless frames, pitching around a Brett Gardner infield single.

Phelps recorded four strikeouts -- all looking -- in two innings of work, scattering two hits with no walks, as he kicks off a bid to serve as the Yankees' fifth starter.

The Yankees tied the game in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Francisco Cervelli and Kelly Johnson. Chris Dickerson gave the Pirates a lead with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, and John Ryan Murphy answered with a run-scoring single in the home half of the inning.

Bautista leads Blue Jays' offensive outburst

The Blue Jays' offense scored early and often as Jose Bautista led the way with two doubles and a pair of RBIs in a 7-5 victory over the Phillies on Thursday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Bautista opened the scoring for Toronto in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI double down the left-field line off left-hander Cliff Lee. Two innings later, Bautista was back at it again with a double over the head of center fielder Ben Revere.

Toronto's right fielder now has three extra-base hits, three RBIs and a pair of walks in just two games this spring. He was eventually removed for a pinch-runner during the fifth inning when Toronto went to its bench for the rest of the game.

Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie also had a pair of hits while Melky Cabrera had a two-run double to the gap in right-center field. Toronto's starting nine combined for seven runs on 10 hits over the course of five innings.

"I thought we swung the bats pretty good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You look at it, most of our hits were middle or the other way. That doesn't mean we're going to turn into that [type] of team, but against a lot of lefties and things like that you have to be able to do that and I think it was progress for us."

Left fielder Darin Ruf was the main standout on offense for Philadelphia. He walked during his first at-bat and in his second appearance he sent a home run off the scoreboard in left field. Ruf's first of the spring came on a first-pitch fastball from right-hander Esmil Rogers and put the Phillies in front, 3-1. John Mayberry also added a solo homer off the scoreboard in the sixth.

Lee made his spring debut for the Phillies and allowed one run on two hits while striking out three. His only trouble came in the first inning when he surrendered the back-to-back doubles to Moises Sierra and Bautista. Lee retired the final five batters he faced and got through his outing in relatively short order.

Blue Jays No. 1 starter R.A. Dickey allowed one unearned run in his two innings. Dickey had trouble locating his knuckleball early in the game as he walked a pair of batters in the first inning before settling into a groove during his brief outing.

The only run against Dickey came when a passed ball was charged to Erik Kratz when Philadelphia loaded the bases with just one out. Dickey then struck out Kevin Frandsen and got Cody Asche on a weak grounder to second that ended the inning.

Ruf, Mayberry go yard in loss to Blue Jays

The Blue Jays' offense scored early and often as Jose Bautista led the way with two doubles and a pair of RBIs in a 7-5 victory over the Phillies on Thursday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Bautista opened the scoring for Toronto in the bottom of the first inning with an RBI double down the left-field line off left-hander Cliff Lee. Two innings later, Bautista was back at it again with a double over the head of center fielder Ben Revere.

Toronto's right fielder now has three extra-base hits, three RBIs and a pair of walks in just two games this spring. He was eventually removed for a pinch-runner during the fifth inning when Toronto went to its bench for the rest of the game.

Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie also had a pair of hits while Melky Cabrera had a two-run double to the gap in right-center field. Toronto's starting nine combined for seven runs on 10 hits over the course of five innings.

Left fielder Darin Ruf was the main standout on offense for Philadelphia. He walked during his first at-bat and in his second appearance he sent a home run off the scoreboard in left field. Ruf's first of the spring came on a first-pitch fastball from right-hander Esmil Rogers and put the Phillies in front, 3-1. John Mayberry also added a solo homer off the scoreboard in the sixth.

Lee made his spring debut for the Phillies and allowed one run on two hits while striking out three. His only trouble came in the first inning when he surrendered the back-to-back doubles to Moises Sierra and Bautista. Lee retired the final five batters he faced and got through his outing in relatively short order.

"Obviously, I'm trying to throw strikes," Lee said. "Made a couple mistakes. The first double was for sure a mistake -- tried to throw a backdoor cutter and it ended up right down the middle. And then Bautista, I just missed on the pitch before and tried to throw the same pitch. It wasn't a bad one, it's just you get into a 2-2 count with him in that situation is not where you want to be. He put a good swing on it. But other than that I felt good, was throwing strikes.

"My changeup was working pretty good today. I was pleased with that. Working ahead in the count for the most part. Didn't walk anyone, so I feel like mission accomplished."

Blue Jays No. 1 starter R.A. Dickey allowed one unearned run in his two innings. Dickey had trouble locating his knuckleball early in the game as he walked a pair of batters in the first inning before settling into a groove during his brief outing.

The only run against Dickey came when a passed ball was charged to Erik Kratz when Philadelphia loaded the bases with just one out. Dickey then struck out Kevin Frandsen and got Cody Asche on a weak grounder to second that ended the inning.

Heyward crushes long home run vs. Tigers

The spring-opening home-and-home series between the Tigers and Braves ended up with two Detroit go-ahead rallies and a sweep. Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson hit RBI singles in a two-run fifth inning Thursday, sending the Tigers to another win with a 5-2 decision at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Jason Heyward provided the highlight of the afternoon with a tape-measure home run down the right-field line, the same area where he cleared the batting cage building four years ago on a mammoth drive off Max Scherzer. Thursday's shot off reliever Duane Below hit near the top of the roof on the building, giving Atlanta a 2-1 lead in the third, but the Tigers rallied for a second consecutive day.

Below followed Rick Porcello, who recovered from a Ryan Doumit first-inning RBI double by striking out the side in the second. Jose Iglesias tied it in the bottom half without a base hit, drawing a leadoff walk off Atlanta starter Kris Medlen, advancing to second on a hit-and-run play on an Andy Dirks groundout, reaching third on a wild pitch and scoring on Miguel Cabrera's groundout.

Detroit squandered a scoring opportunity following back-to-back singles in the fourth, but Iglesias -- batting leadoff for this game -- again sparked a rally by beating out an infield single to start the fifth. Miguel Cabrera's walk moved pinch-runner Devon Travis to second, where Travis scored easily on Hunter's ground ball through the right side.

Braves right-hander Wirfin Obispo regrouped with a James McCann flyout but fell behind on Jackson, batting sixth in this game instead of his usual leadoff spot. He centered a line drive that fell in front of center fielder B.J. Upton.

Porcello topped out at 94 mph on his fastball in his first outing of the spring, striking out three in two innings. Joba Chamberlain hit 90-92 mph on his fastball in relief, but commanded it to go with a biting slider. Medlen gave up two hits and the one run in two innings.

Gerald Laird left the game after one at-bat with back stiffness, but characterized the injury as minor.

Jackson backs solid Porcello in win over Braves

The spring-opening home-and-home series between the Tigers and Braves ended up with two Detroit go-ahead rallies and a sweep. Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson hit RBI singles in a two-run fifth inning Thursday, sending the Tigers to another win with a 5-2 decision at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Jason Heyward provided the highlight of the afternoon with a tape-measure home run down the right-field line, the same area where he cleared the batting cage building four years ago on a mammoth drive off Max Scherzer. Thursday's shot off reliever Duane Below hit near the top of the roof on the building, giving Atlanta a 2-1 lead in the third, but the Tigers rallied for a second consecutive day.

Below followed Rick Porcello, who recovered from a Ryan Doumit first-inning RBI double by striking out the side in the second. Jose Iglesias tied it in the bottom half without a base hit, drawing a leadoff walk off Atlanta starter Kris Medlen, advancing to second on a hit-and-run play on an Andy Dirks groundout, reaching third on a wild pitch and scoring on Miguel Cabrera's groundout.

Detroit squandered a scoring opportunity following back-to-back singles in the fourth, but Iglesias -- batting leadoff for this game -- again sparked a rally by beating out an infield single to start the fifth. Miguel Cabrera's walk moved pinch-runner Devon Travis to second, where Travis scored easily on Hunter's ground ball through the right side.

Braves right-hander Wirfin Obispo regrouped with a James McCann flyout but fell behind on Jackson, batting sixth in this game instead of his usual leadoff spot. He centered a line drive that fell in front of center fielder B.J. Upton.

Porcello topped out at 94 mph on his fastball in his first outing of the spring, striking out three in two innings. Joba Chamberlain hit 90-92 mph on his fastball in relief, but commanded it to go with a biting slider. Medlen gave up two hits and the one run in two innings.

Gerald Laird left the game after one at-bat with back stiffness, but characterized the injury as minor.

Puig, Rosin shine against D-backs

Brandon McCarthy pitched four strong innings as the D-backs beat the Dodgers, 4-1, on Wednesday in the Cactus League opener for both teams at Salt River Fields.

McCarthy, who is trying to rebound from a disappointing 2013, allowed one run on four hits and walked one while striking out a pair in throwing 52 pitches.

It was a less-than-stellar debut for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who threw 42 pitches over two innings and gave up five hits, including two doubles and a triple while allowing three runs.

In fairness to Kershaw, his defense did not help him out as left fielder Carl Crawford misplayed A.J. Pollock's line drive, letting a catchable ball past him for an RBI triple. One batter later, Aaron Hill singled home Pollock to give the D-backs a 3-0 lead.

"He's good," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Kershaw. "You could argue he's the best there is, so it was a good challenge for us today. We'll see him a lot this year, so it'll be cat and mouse all year."

"The results weren't very pretty," said Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. "My body and my arm feel good. Obviously a lot to work on. I'm a results-based guy and I have to see results -- outs. Today left a lot to be desired. The hitters told me by how hard they hit the ball."

The D-backs scored a run in the first inning when Martin Prado doubled home Hill on a drive to the wall in left, and Shelley Duncan singled in Chris Owings in the eighth.

Owings and Didi Gregorius are competing to be the D-backs' starting shortstop this spring, but they shared an infield in the latter part of this one, with Owings playing second and Gregorius manning short. They both went 1-for-2.

The Dodgers got on the board in the third when Yasiel Puig doubled home Crawford. Puig went 2-for-3 on the day.

Rule 5 roster hopeful Seth Rosin struck out five D-backs in two innings of relief in an impressive Dodgers debut.

J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler and Addison Reed each turned in a scoreless inning of relief for the D-backs.

Pollock shines for D-backs in spring opener

Brandon McCarthy pitched four strong innings as the D-backs beat the Dodgers, 4-1, on Wednesday in the Cactus League opener for both teams at Salt River Fields.

McCarthy, who is trying to rebound from a disappointing 2013, allowed one run on four hits and walked one while striking out a pair in throwing 52 pitches.

"It was good to get a feel for where you are now," McCarthy said. "That's always the first thing you're worried about: Have I done enough, am I where I want to be?"

It was a less-than-stellar debut for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who threw 42 pitches over two innings and gave up five hits, including two doubles and a triple while allowing three runs.

In fairness to Kershaw, his defense did not help him out as left fielder Carl Crawford misplayed A.J. Pollock's line drive, letting a catchable ball past him for an RBI triple. One batter later, Aaron Hill singled home Pollock to give the D-backs a 3-0 lead.

"He's good," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Kershaw. "You could argue he's the best there is, so it was a good challenge for us today. We'll see him a lot this year, so it'll be cat and mouse all year."

"The results weren't very pretty," said Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. "My body and my arm feel good. Obviously a lot to work on. I'm a results-based guy and I have to see results -- outs. Today left a lot to be desired. The hitters told me by how hard they hit the ball."

The D-backs scored a run in the first inning when Martin Prado doubled home Hill on a drive to the wall in left, and Shelley Duncan singled in Chris Owings in the eighth.

Owings and Didi Gregorius are competing to be the D-backs' starting shortstop this spring, but they shared an infield in the latter part of this one, with Owings playing second and Gregorius manning short. They both went 1-for-2.

The Dodgers got on the board in the third when Yasiel Puig doubled home Crawford. Puig went 2-for-3 on the day.

Rule 5 roster hopeful Seth Rosin struck out five D-backs in two innings of relief in an impressive Dodgers debut.

J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler and Addison Reed each turned in a scoreless inning of relief for the D-backs.

Petit, Romo have tough spring debuts vs. A's

The Oakland A's relied on a four-run first inning, a six-run fourth inning and superb defense to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 10-5, in a Cactus League opener for both teams.

Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit, a candidate for the long-relief role, yielded RBI singles to Josh Reddick, Alberto Callaspo and John Jaso in Oakland's big first. Second baseman Tony Abreu bobbled a potential double-play relay, accounting for another run.

The A's added six runs off Giants closer Sergio Romo in the fourth inning while amassing seven hits, including Yoenis Cespedes' RBI single, Brandon Moss' two-run single, Stephen Vogt's two-run triple and Michael Taylor's run-scoring single.

Oakland's fielding helped preserve that lead. Second baseman Eric Sogard began an inning-ending double play in the first by gobbling up Pablo Sandoval's grounder and flipping the ball from his glove to shortstop Nick Punto, who crossed the bag with balletic timing.

One inning later, Reddick reached over the top of the 10-foot-high right-field fence to rob Michael Morse of an opposite-field home run.

"I climbed it, and as soon as I turned my head, the ball was pretty much over the fence, and I just quick-snatched it, I guess you could say," said Reddick. "I was shocked, even being able to come close to it."

Reddick repeated the feat with two runners aboard in the fourth inning, reaching to the top of the barrier to deny Morse an extra-base hit, if not a homer.

"He's known for doing that, man," Morse said. "I'm happy to help him work on it in Spring Training, I guess."

Earlier in the fourth, Sandoval's sacrifice fly drove in the Giants' first run. Adam Duvall hit a leadoff homer in the ninth and Ehire Adrianza belted a three-run shot with two outs.

Defense shines as A's romp in Cactus League opener

The Oakland A's relied on a four-run first inning, a six-run fourth inning and superb defense to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 10-5, in a Cactus League opener for both teams.

Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit, a candidate for the long-relief role, yielded RBI singles to Josh Reddick, Alberto Callaspo and John Jaso in Oakland's big first. Second baseman Tony Abreu bobbled a potential double-play relay, accounting for another run.

The A's added six runs off Giants closer Sergio Romo in the fourth inning while amassing seven hits, including Yoenis Cespedes' RBI single, Brandon Moss' two-run single, Stephen Vogt's two-run triple and Michael Taylor's run-scoring single.

Oakland's fielding helped preserve that lead. Second baseman Eric Sogard began an inning-ending double play in the first by gobbling up Pablo Sandoval's grounder and flipping the ball from his glove to shortstop Nick Punto, who crossed the bag with balletic timing.

One inning later, Reddick reached over the top of the 10-foot-high right-field fence to rob Michael Morse of an opposite-field home run.

"I climbed it, and as soon as I turned my head, the ball was pretty much over the fence, and I just quick-snatched it, I guess you could say," said Reddick. "I was shocked, even being able to come close to it."

Reddick repeated the feat with two runners aboard in the fourth inning, reaching to the top of the barrier to deny Morse an extra-base hit, if not a homer.

"He's known for doing that, man," Morse said. "I'm happy to help him work on it in Spring Training, I guess."

Earlier in the fourth, Sandoval's sacrifice fly drove in the Giants' first run. Adam Duvall hit a leadoff homer in the ninth and Ehire Adrianza belted a three-run shot with two outs.

Bauer, Harang begin rotation bids unblemished

Both the Indians and Reds were ousted from the postseason earlier than the ballclubs hoped last season. Their respective quests to carry their seasons deeper into October began under clear skies at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon.

The Cactus League opener between the Ohio rivals served as the starting line for two of Major League Baseball's four Wild Card winners from last year. With an 8-3 victory over the Tribe, Cincinnati delivered the first strike in the first of three straight spring games with Cleveland.

Speedster Billy Hamilton opened the contest by drawing a walk against Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, who is vying for a rotation job this spring. Hamilton promptly stole second base, forcing a throwing error by catcher Yan Gomes in the process, and advanced to third on the play. That is as far as Hamilton's legs got him, though.

"Hamilton had a really good at-bat," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "So I thought Trevor came out of the chute throwing the ball pretty well, and then he had a walk. Walks lead to runs. Gomer kind of saved him."

Bauer issued two walks in his one-inning performance but escaped unscathed. After also walking Brandon Phillips, Bauer struck out Reds first baseman Joey Votto and watched Gomes throw out Phillips on a stolen-base attempt. Jay Bruce followed with a flyout to left field to put the finishing touch on Bauer's afternoon.

"I felt good. My body felt good. It's good to get back out there in game situations," Bauer said. "It's just getting my feet wet and getting used to seeing hitters in the box and having the defense behind you. ... I got to work with some guys in scoring position, which I would've preferred not to, but I got it all today."

In the third inning, Votto made up for his first at-bat with a single to center off lefty T.J. House that scored Brayan Pena from second base. Votto later crossed the plate on a base hit to left field by Ryan Ludwick, pushing Cincinnati to a 2-0 advantage.

Reds starter Alfredo Simon made the start and turned in two hitless innings.

"All of my pitches were working really good," Simon said ."I just tried to throw the first pitch for a strike and then keep going. I worked on my two-seamer. It was working really good."

Cleveland right-hander Aaron Harang -- competing against Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, Shaun Marcum and Bauer for the fifth rotation spot this spring -- logged one 13-pitch inning against his former team. Harang then went out to the bullpen to get his workload up to 25 pitches, and felt good about the day's work.

"It's always nice to get that first one out of the way," Harang said. "I'll have a few days off and go out there for a few more. I think the biggest thing with working on stuff is that's what your bullpen sessions are for. When you get out in game situations, you've just got to get it done."

"I thought Harang was sharp," Francona said. "I thought he was crisp. ... It's the first day of Spring Training, their first time competing. But the quicker [pitchers] can get comfortable attacking the zone, the better off everybody will be."

The Indians erased their two-run deficit in the fifth inning, when Ryan Raburn pulled a pitch from Reds pitcher Tim Crabbe into deep left field for a double. Cleveland catching prospect Tony Wolters then came through with an RBI single to cut Cincinnati's lead to 2-1. Later in the inning, David Adams grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, pulling the game into a tie.

Facing Indians lefty Colt Hynes in the sixth inning, Tucker Barnhart drew a bases-loaded walk and Donald Lutz added a run-scoring groundout to put Cincinnati back on top.

In the seventh, Chris Heisey hit a two-run homer off Indians relief prospect C.C. Lee.

Hamilton, Votto start quickly in spring opener

Both the Indians and Reds were ousted from the postseason earlier than the ballclubs hoped last season. Their respective quests to carry their seasons deeper into October began under clear skies at Goodyear Ballpark on Wednesday afternoon.

The Cactus League opener between the Ohio rivals served as the starting line for two of Major League Baseball's four Wild Card winners from last year. With an 8-3 victory over the Tribe, Cincinnati delivered the first strike in the first of three straight spring games with Cleveland.

Speedster Billy Hamilton opened the contest by drawing a walk against Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, who is vying for a rotation job this spring. Hamilton promptly stole second base, forcing a throwing error by catcher Yan Gomes in the process, and advanced to third on the play. That is as far as Hamilton's legs got him, though.

Bauer issued two walks in his one-inning performance but escaped unscathed. After also walking Brandon Phillips, Bauer struck out Reds first baseman Joey Votto and watched Gomes throw out Phillips on a stolen-base attempt. Jay Bruce followed with a flyout to left field to put the finishing touch on Bauer's afternoon.

"I felt good. My body felt good. It's good to get back out there in game situations," Bauer said. "It's just getting my feet wet and getting used to seeing hitters in the box and having the defense behind you. ... I got to work with some guys in scoring position, which I would've preferred not to, but I got it all today."

In the third inning, Votto made up for his first at-bat with a single to center off lefty T.J. House that scored Brayan Pena from second base. Votto later crossed the plate on a base hit to left field by Ryan Ludwick, pushing Cincinnati to a 2-0 advantage.

Reds starter Alfredo Simon made the start and turned in two hitless innings.

"All of my pitches were working really good," Simon said ."I just tried to throw the first pitch for a strike and then keep going. I worked on my two-seamer. It was working really good."

Reds manager Bryan Price liked what he saw in his first Cactus League game at the helm.

"It looked good," Price said. "I think we walked seven times, saw a lot of really good cripple hitting [in favorable counts], some good consistent at-bats, ran the bases aggressively and did some of the things we wanted to do in that department. Pitchers threw strikes for the most part.

"It was a pretty clean game for Game 1 in the Cactus League."

Cleveland right-hander Aaron Harang -- competing against Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, Shaun Marcum and Bauer for the fifth rotation spot this spring -- logged one 13-pitch inning against his former team. Harang then went out to the bullpen to get his workload up to 25 pitches, and felt good about the day's work.

"It's always nice to get that first one out of the way," Harang said. "I'll have a few days off and go out there for a few more. I think the biggest thing with working on stuff is that's what your bullpen sessions are for. When you get out in game situations, you've just got to get it done."

The Indians erased their two-run deficit in the fifth inning, when Ryan Raburn pulled a pitch from Reds pitcher Tim Crabbe into deep left field for a double. Cleveland catching prospect Tony Wolters then came through with an RBI single to cut Cincinnati's lead to 2-1. Later in the inning, David Adams grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, pulling the game into a tie.

Facing Indians lefty Colt Hynes in the sixth inning, Tucker Barnhart drew a bases-loaded walk and Donald Lutz added a run-scoring groundout to put Cincinnati back on top.

In the seventh, Chris Heisey hit a two-run homer off Indians relief prospect C.C. Lee.

Howard, Byrd chip in during Phillies' spring opener

Jose Bautista homered Wednesday afternoon as the Phillies and Blue Jays opened their Grapefruit League schedule at Bright House Field.

It helped Toronto to a 4-3 victory. The game was called in the middle of the seventh inning because of rain.

Bautista wasted no time, crushing a 2-0 pitch in the first inning against Phillies right-hander Roberto Hernandez literally over the left-field fence and out of the ballpark. Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd each singled to score a run against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ to hand the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first.

"If you keep the ball up like today, that's what happens," Hernandez said on a windy day at the Phillies' home park. "Everything was up."

Happ allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out three in one inning. Hernandez allowed two runs on four hits in two innings.

"I guess the positives are, you go out there trying to get some pitches, and I got plenty of those in during the first," Happ said. "But I kept the ball on the ground for the most part. Continue to tweak command and continue to get ahead of guys, I think good things will happen. It was OK."

The Blue Jays scored two runs in the third inning against Phillies reliever Phillippe Aumont to take the lead. Blue Jays right-hander Todd Redmond pitched two scoreless innings to pick up the win. Phils left-hander Antonio Bastardo, who is trying to bounce back following a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, pitched a scoreless inning.

Bautista's blast sets tone as Toronto takes opener

Jose Bautista homered Wednesday afternoon as the Phillies and Blue Jays opened their Grapefruit League schedule at Bright House Field.

It helped Toronto to a 4-3 victory. The game was called in the middle of the seventh inning because of rain.

Bautista wasted no time, crushing a 2-0 pitch in the first inning against Phillies right-hander Roberto Hernandez literally over the left-field fence and out of the ballpark. Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd each singled to score a run against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ to hand the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first.

"If you keep the ball up like today, that's what happens," Hernandez said on a windy day at the Phillies' home park. "Everything was up."

Happ allowed two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out three in one inning. Hernandez allowed two runs on four hits in two innings.

"I guess the positives are, you go out there trying to get some pitches, and I got plenty of those in during the first," Happ said. "But I kept the ball on the ground for the most part. Continue to tweak command and continue to get ahead of guys, I think good things will happen. It was OK."

The Blue Jays scored two runs in the third inning against Phillies reliever Phillippe Aumont to take the lead. Blue Jays right-hander Todd Redmond pitched two scoreless innings to pick up the win. Phils left-hander Antonio Bastardo, who is trying to bounce back following a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, pitched a scoreless inning.

Sanchez's homer paves way for Bucs' win

Chris McGuiness singled home the go-ahead run, capping a four-run seventh, and the Pirates stormed back from an early four-run deficit for a 6-5 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.

Catcher Tony Sanchez had drawn the Pirates into a 5-5 tie with a three-run homer off Chase Whitley earlier in the seventh, his second such blow in two days after striking a three-run homer in Tuesday's intrasquad game.

Jacoby Ellsbury had sparked the Yankees to their early lead by drawing walks in each of the first two innings and scoring both times.

The game drew 6,870 to McKechnie Field, a new record for an exhibition opener at the park that has been the Pirates' spring home since 1969. The previous record was 6,367, in 2011 against the Rays.

Ellsbury also hit a hard infield single on his third trip to the plate in his game debut with the Yankees.

Two other big-ticket free agents also made their Yankees debuts, with Carlos Beltran going 0-for-3 and catcher Brian McCann going 1-for-2.

McCann and Ramon Flores drilled RBI singles in the first inning off left-hander Francisco Liriano, and Yangervis Solarte added a two-run homer off Edinson Volquez in the second.

The Bucs responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second, on a single by Jordy Mercer and Starling Marte's run-scoring grounder, both off reliever Bruce Billings. But the runs were charged to New York starter Ivan Nova, who went 1 1/3 innings.

Liriano, the Pirates' Opening Day starter, shrugged off getting hit hard in his one inning of work.

"I mainly worked on getting good command of the fastball," Liriano said. "The other pitches come around once I get the release point for the fastball. Physically, I feel 100 percent. My arm feels great. I only worry about getting ready for Opening Day."

The last time the Pirates saw Beltran, he was destroying them in the 2013 National League Division Series. His three-run homer triggered a seven-run third in St. Louis' 9-1 win in Game 1, and overall, he homered twice and drove in six runs in the five-game set.

Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit three homers and recorded six RBIs in that same series, and they played to a draw in this meeting: Alvarez also went 0-for-3, with two strikeouts.

New kids are all right for Yanks vs. Bucs

Chris McGuiness singled home the go-ahead run, capping a four-run seventh, and the Pirates stormed back from an early four-run deficit for a 6-5 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.

Catcher Tony Sanchez had drawn the Pirates into a 5-5 tie with a three-run homer off Chase Whitley earlier in the seventh, his second such blow in two days after striking a three-run homer in Tuesday's intrasquad game.

Jacoby Ellsbury had sparked the Yankees to their early lead by drawing walks in each of the first two innings and scoring both times.

The game drew 6,870 to McKechnie Field, a new record for an exhibition opener at the park that has been the Pirates' spring home since 1969. The previous record was 6,367, in 2011 against the Rays.

Ellsbury also hit a hard infield single on his third trip to the plate in his game debut with the Yankees.

Two other big-ticket free agents also made their Yankees debuts, with Carlos Beltran going 0-for-3 and catcher Brian McCann going 1-for-2.

McCann and Ramon Flores drilled RBI singles in the first inning off left-hander Francisco Liriano, and Yangervis Solarte added a two-run homer off Edinson Volquez in the second.

The Bucs responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second, on a single by Jordy Mercer and Starling Marte's run-scoring grounder, both off reliever Bruce Billings. But the runs were charged to New York starter Ivan Nova, who went 1 1/3 innings.

Liriano, the Pirates' Opening Day starter, shrugged off getting hit hard in his one inning of work.

"I mainly worked on getting good command of the fastball," Liriano said. "The other pitches come around once I get the release point for the fastball. Physically, I feel 100 percent. My arm feels great. I only worry about getting ready for Opening Day."

The last time the Pirates saw Beltran, he was destroying them in the 2013 National League Division Series. His three-run homer triggered a seven-run third in St. Louis' 9-1 win in Game 1, and overall, he homered twice and drove in six runs in the five-game set.

Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit three homers and recorded six RBIs in that same series, and they played to a draw in this meeting: Alvarez also went 0-for-3, with two strikeouts.

Garcia comes out strong in rain-shortened defeat

Hernan Perez's ninth-inning, two-out, two-run single off Shae Simmons enabled the Tigers to overcome four errors and open the Grapefruit League season with a 6-5 win over the Braves on Wednesday afternoon at Champion Stadium. The game was called due to rain with two outs in the ninth.

With resumption in question, the Braves asked the Elias Sports Bureau for a ruling and said Elias stated that the Tigers were declared the winner. The decision wasn't questioned by either side.

"For the first game, it wasn't as good as we wanted," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was a little sloppy out there both ways. But it's the first game of Spring Training, and we forget sometimes that it's still February."

Ernesto Mejia recorded two doubles and Dan Uggla contributed a pair of singles for the Braves.

Mejia opened the seventh with a double down the left-field line and advanced to third base when Jose Constanza reached on a fielder's choice that was gloved by pitcher Eduardo Sanchez. Catcher John Murrian's errant attempt to prevent Constanza from stealing second base allowed Mejia to score and put Constanza in position to jog home on Todd Cunningham's sacrifice fly.

Backed by the two perfect innings completed by starting pitcher Freddy Garcia, the Braves held a 2-1 lead before the lead changed hands three times during the sixth and seventh innings. Atlanta's slim advantage came courtesy of Evan Gattis' two-out third-inning double off Justin Miller and Uggla's second-inning single off Detroit starter Drew Smyly, who retired the first five batters he faced before allowing Chris Johnson to lace a two-out double down the left-field line.

The Tigers gained a brief lead with a two-run sixth inning against Hector Daniel Rodriguez. Victor Martinez fueled the sixth with a game-tying single that scored Ian Kinsler, who had walked to open the inning. Martinez also scored Rajai Davis with a fourth-inning single off Ryan Buchter.

Ramiro Pena erased Atlanta's one-run deficit with a two-out double off Evan Reed in the sixth inning. Pena's double to left scored Tommy La Stella, who reached on an infield single and advanced to second base on second baseman Perez's throwing error.

Perez's big hit gives Tigers late lead; rain seals win

Hernan Perez's ninth-inning, two-out, two-run single off Shae Simmons enabled the Tigers to overcome four errors and open the Grapefruit League season with a 6-5 win over the Braves on Wednesday afternoon at Champion Stadium. The game was called due to rain with two outs in the ninth.

With resumption in question, the Braves asked the Elias Sports Bureau for a ruling and said Elias stated that the Tigers were declared the winner. The decision wasn't questioned by either side.

Ernesto Mejia recorded two doubles and Dan Uggla contributed a pair of singles for the Braves.

Mejia opened the seventh with a double down the left-field line and advanced to third base when Jose Constanza reached on a fielder's choice that was gloved by pitcher Eduardo Sanchez. Catcher John Murrian's errant attempt to prevent Constanza from stealing second base allowed Mejia to score and put Constanza in position to jog home on Todd Cunningham's sacrifice fly.

Backed by the two perfect innings completed by starting pitcher Freddy Garcia, the Braves held a 2-1 lead before the lead changed hands three times during the sixth and seventh innings. Atlanta's slim advantage came courtesy of Evan Gattis' two-out third-inning double off Justin Miller and Uggla's second-inning single off Detroit starter Drew Smyly, who retired the first five batters he faced before allowing Chris Johnson to lace a two-out double down the left-field line.

The Tigers gained a brief lead with a two-run sixth inning against Hector Daniel Rodriguez. Victor Martinez fueled the sixth with a game-tying single that scored Ian Kinsler, who had walked to open the inning. Martinez also scored Rajai Davis with a fourth-inning single off Ryan Buchter.

"We hope we can use some of our leg assets in terms of running the bases and maybe defensively," manager Brad Ausmus said of his team's baserunning. "But I think it's the frame of mind that we have to change before it becomes a real factor, a frame of mind of wanting to go the extra 90, extra 180 feet, forcing the defense to make a play on you."

Ramiro Pena erased Atlanta's one-run deficit with a two-out double off Evan Reed in the sixth inning. Pena's double to left scored Tommy La Stella, who reached on an infield single and advanced to second base on second baseman Perez's throwing error.