SEATTLE: RHP Brandon Morrow's 3 1-3 innings of one-hit shutout relief in Monday night's 5-4 win over Texas has convinced manager Mike Hargrove that the rookie can fill the long relief role held last season by RHP Mark Lowe. ``Now we know Morrow can go longer and still hold his strength,'' Hargrove said. Morrow's fastball was still at 95 mph at the end of his stint Monday. Lowe is on the 60-day DL recovering from right shoulder surgery. ... SS Yuniesky Betancourt drew his first walk of the season Monday night, and Hargrove said he wants to see more patience at the plate from the third-year player. ``His game is not as a home run hitter,'' Hargrove said. ``For him to be as good as his talent says it should be, he's got to take more walks.'' ... RHP Felix Hernandez threw off flat ground for 11 minutes without problems Monday morning. The staff ace was placed on the 15-day DL with a muscle strain in his right arm.
TEXAS: The Rangers' bullpen hasn't allowed a run in three consecutive games, a span of 10 1-3 innings. RHP Akinori Otsuka has pitched shutout relief in all eight appearances, a streak that covers 6 2-3 innings. ... Pitching coach Mark Connor is trying to get RHP Brandon McCarthy to relax on the mound. McCarthy has a 10.20 ERA in his four starts. ``He hasn't been hitting his spots and is leaving too many pitches up,'' manager Ron Washington said. ``If relaxing will get him down in the zone, that's what I want him to do.''
OAKLAND: The Oakland pitching staff set a major league record Tuesday by recording a scoreless first inning for the 20th straight game to start the season. ... OF Nick Swisher left Tuesday's game in the first inning after straining his left hamstring while running the bases. ``I don't think it's a bad thing,'' Swisher said. ``I'll take a couple days off, get healthy, and come back in and start playing well again.'' ... Tuesday marked the 18th consecutive game in which an Oakland starter gave up three runs or fewer, the longest such streak since Cleveland went 18 straight in 1998. ... Oakland has won six of eight since starting the season 5-7.
ainst Kansas City was rescheduled for Sept. 24. ... 1B-DH Kevin Millar went hitless Tuesday to remain two shy of 1,000 in his career.
Blue Jays-Red Sox
TORONTO: C Gregg Zaun apparently hurt himself trying to throw Julio Lugo out at second on a stolen base attempt in the first inning. Zaun took a couple practice throws but remained in the game until walking off after Roy Halladay warmed up to start the third. He was replaced by Jason Phillips. ... Vernon Wells hit his fourth homer of the season, in the third. ... RHP Jon Thomson (right shoulder) made his first rehab start for Single-A Dunedin, allowing four runs on eight hits walking one and striking out six over four innings. He'll pitch again Saturday.
BOSTON: Jason Varitek, who hit the fourth of Boston's four consecutive homers Sunday night, donated the bat he used to the Hall of Fame. ... Sunday night's game between the Yankees and Red Sox was the highest-rated regular-season baseball game on ESPN (3,952,000 homes) since Mark McGwire hit his 61st homer to tie Roger Maris, on Sept. 7, 1998. ... Mike Lowell extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a fourth-inning homer. He has hit three homers in his last three games. ... Julio Lugo had two singles after going 0-for-5 on Monday to extend a 2-for-23 slump.
Yankees-Devil Rays
NEW YORK: 3B Alex Rodriguez said it's too early to start answering questions about possibly breaking Barry Bonds' single season home run record. ``That's a much better question in late August,'' Rodriguez said. ... CF Johnny Damon, has been slowed by back stiffness, was back in the lineup. He didn't start Monday's game because the Yankees wanted to keep him off the artificial turf for one of two games at Tampa Bay. ... LHP Kei Igawa, who struggled badly in Monday's 10-8 loss to the Devil Rays, will get to make his next start Saturday against Boston, which swept a three-game series from the Yankees last weekend. ``I can't have any reservations,'' manager Joe Torre said. ``The two starts before yesterday were fine. He certainly wasn't very good last night. He had no command.''
TAMPA BAY: Rookie 3B Akinori Iwamura, who's hitting .339 and has stabilized the infield defensively, is expected to be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks with a right oblique strain. ``He's a big part of what we're doing now and in the future,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ``He not only adds his ability as a player, but also his charisma. He's going to be missed.'' ... INF Jorge Cantu was recalled from Triple-A Durham to fill the roster opening.
CLEVELAND: Travis Hafner's fellow Indians are starting to do the talking for him. ``He's probably the best player in the league. I think people need to start realizing that,'' 1B Ryan Garko said. ``I know he plays here in Cleveland and he's pretty quiet, but he's probably the best player in the league.'' Hafner hit .615 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games. ... Manager Eric Wedge on Josh Barfield, who's hitting .132 this season and is in a 4-for-37 slump: ``He has some back-and-forth going on right now. ... He's going to be an everyday guy and he's going to be a guy you don't pinch-hit for sooner rather than later.''
MINNESOTA: Utilityman Jeff Cirillo (knee) took batting practice Tuesday, but manager Ron Gardenhire said he's still 7-10 days away. ... LF Rondell White (calf) could return much sooner. ``He's doing much better,'' Gardenhire said. ``He's a day or two away.'' ... Gardenhire put DH Jason Tyner in the leadoff spot Tuesday and moved rookie 2B Alexi Casilla down to No. 9. ``Just wanted to take a little pressure off Casilla, let him see the pitchers and help him out.''
White Sox-Royals
CHICAGO: Manager Ozzie Guillen held DH Jim Thome out of the starting lineup Tuesday with a sore muscle in his right rib cage, but didn't rule out using Thome as a pinch hitter. Thome strained the muscle in his last at-bat in Monday's 7-4 victory over the Royals. ... INF Alex Cintron is expected to rejoin the club Thursday, for the second game of a two-game home series against Detroit. The club placed Cintron on the bereavement list Sunday. He's in Puerto Rico with his grandfather, who had a stroke.
KANSAS CITY: Kansas City recalled RHP Brian Bannister from Triple-A Omaha to start Tuesday night's game. It was the seventh major league start and the first for Bannister against the White Sox. His father, Floyd Bannister, was 16-14 for the Royals in 1988-89. The two are the third father-son combination in club history, behind Hal and Brian McRae and John and Dusty Wathan. ... The Royals optioned left-hander Neal Musser to Omaha. Musser made two short relief appearances since being called up Friday, with no record and a 0.00 ERA.
DETROIT: The Tigers have played 11 one-run games, the most in the majors - and are 6-5 in those situations. ... Jeremy Bonderman, who fell behind 7-0 Tuesday against the Angels after three innings before his teammates rallied to take a short-lived lead, is the first Tigers starter to begin a season with five straight no-decisions since Brian Bohanon in 1995. ... Bonderman hadn't allowed an unintentional walk over a span of 31 1-3 innings until he walked Gary Matthews Jr. leading off the sixth inning. ... Carlos Guillen, whose 28 errors last season were the most among AL shortstops, committed two in the first inning to help the Angels score four runs. ... Closer Todd Jones absorbed his second blown save of the season on his 39th birthday.
LOS ANGELES: Bartolo Colon, who tweaked his left ankle covering first base Saturday in his first start off the DL, isn't a sure thing for Thursday against Tampa Bay. Manager Mike Scioscia is holding back Dustin Moseley from any relief assignments until then, just in case he has to start again. ... The Angels beat Detroit 9-8 in 10 innings after blowing a 7-0 lead. The last time they had seven-run lead and lost was Aug. 31, 1999, at Cleveland, when the Indians rallied from eight runs down to win 14-12. ... The Angels have staked their starting pitcher to a 7-0 lead in three of their last five games, and needed to use Francisco Rodriguez in a save situation all three times. ... CF Tommy Murphy was optioned to the Angels' Triple-A Salt Lake club to make room for RHP Kelvim Escobar, who had a no-decision after leaving with a 7-4 lead against Detroit. ... Vladimir Guerrero went 3-for-5 and leads the AL with a .403 average. He has 18 RBIs in his first 18 games. ... RHP Justin Speier has stranded all 10 baserunners he has inherited.
2 ERA. ``I get in a bad mood when I start thinking about Tim Hudson,'' Gonzalez said.
FLORIDA: 3B Miguel Cabrera missed two games last week with soreness in his right side and remains hampered by the injury, especially when he runs, Gonzalez said. ``He may not be 100 percent for another week or so,'' Gonzalez said. ``But he feels like he can play, and I'm letting him do that.'' ... 1B Mike Jacobs (right thumb) said he hopes to return to the starting lineup Friday. ``It's going to be up to me as far as pain tolerance,'' he said. ``It's still pretty sore.''
ASTROS: 3B Morgan Ensberg was a late scratch Tuesday because of a hyperextended left ankle. It was uncertain how long he might be out of the lineup. Ensberg was in the original lineup, but was removed about 30 minutes before game time and was replaced by Mark Loretta. ... RHP Brandon Backe threw to batters Tuesday for the first time since right elbow surgery Sept. 7. He will continue to be evaluated, but the Astros don't expect him back until June - though manager Phil Garner liked what he saw. Garner said, ``He had movement on his pitches and his velocity was pretty good. He's done very, very well. He'll pitch some simulated games in mid May and let's go from there.'' ... RHP Jason Jennings, placed on the DL April 16 with a sore elbow, was to pitch a simulated game Wednesday.
PIRATES: OF-1B Brad Eldred made his first start of the season against a right-hander, facing Woody Williams on Tuesday night. Manager Jim Tracy made the move because right-handers were hitting .339 against Williams to .256 for left-handers. ... Former starting 2B Jose Castillo, now a bench player, will start taking fly balls and may get some playing time in RF. The Pirates did the same thing with Eldred to try to get him more at-bats. ... OF Xavier Nady (hamstring) isn't expected to start again until Friday at the earliest. He was hurt Saturday night in Los Angeles.
WASHINGTON: John Patterson (0-3, 7.00) seeks his first win in five starts Wednesday night. The right-hander hasn't pitched more than 5 1-3 innings yet. ... The Nationals haven't scored a run in the first inning this season. ... Austin Kearns hit his first triple in the second inning. He had just two last season. ... Two days after allowing nine earned runs in a loss to Florida, Jerome Williams arrived so early to run at Citizens Bank Park that he watched some reporters take batting practice almost seven hours before game time. Williams joked about his last start, particularly the long home run he allowed to Miguel Cabrera.
PHILADELPHIA: Jon Lieber makes his second start Wednesday since replacing new setup man Brett Myers in the rotation. Lieber was outstanding against Cincinnati last Friday, pitching 5 2-3 scoreless innings. ... Manager Charlie Manuel hasn't lost confidence in Matt Smith, the only left-hander in the bullpen. Smith had eight walks in 3 1-3 innings. ``He's had a little problem with his command, but his stuff is definitely good enough to get lefties out,'' Manuel said. ... Aaron Rowand extending his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI double in the second inning.
his pitching elbow. LHP Tom Martin was activated from the DL. Hawkins was 0-3 with an 8.59 ERA in 7 1-3 innings spanning nine appearances. Martin went on the disabled list March 29 with a strained left groin. ``Tommy's got major league experience. Could he have used more time? Sure. But maybe the adrenaline here will put him in the place he needs to be,'' Hurdle said.
NEW YORK: 3B David Wright singled in the second inning to snap an 0-for-15 skid that included eight strikeouts. ``His run production is down a little bit, but that'll pick up,'' manager Willie Randolph said before the game, adding that he hadn't thought about giving Wright a day off. ``Just have to keep battling, keep grinding.'' ... 1B Carlos Delgado said X-rays on his left hand were negative. ``Even if it wasn't negative, I'm just going to go play anyway,'' Delgado said. The slugger was hit on the pinkie by a pitch from Taylor Buchholz in the fifth inning Monday night, then hit his first home run of the season in his next plate appearance. ... CF Carlos Beltran turned 30. He got his fourth stolen base in the fourth inning. ... RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-1, 5.06 ERA) makes his third start of the season Wednesday against Colorado RHP Josh Fogg, who was tagged for eight runs in 1 1-3 innings in his only start against the Mets last year.
CINCINNATI: The Reds began a 10-day, nine-game trip, the first of five in a row of at least 10 days in length. They have six trips of 10 or more days overall, most in franchise history. ... Ken Griffey Jr., limited to a pinch-hit appearance the last four games due to diverticulitis, was back in the starting lineup. ... Josh Hamilton entered the game leading NL rookies in home runs (five), RBIs (11), runs (10), total bases (28), walks (8), on-base percentage (.413), slugging percentage (.737) and extra-base hits (7). The first overall pick of the 1999 amateur draft has turned his life around after shaking drug and alcohol addiction, and is taking precautions in his first tour of major league cities. ``Sometimes hotels have mini-bars in the room and I don't get rooms with mini-bars,'' Hamilton said. ``I have somebody close by so I can go to them and they can watch my back.''
it's still April and in my mind I didn't think he'd be here in April, so no loss.'' ... David Eckstein had one strikeout in 78 plate appearances, best in the major leagues.
MILWAUKEE: Bill Hall was proud of Monday night's 5-4 win, in which the Brewers overcame a four-run deficit. ``The whole game no one in the dugout gave up,'' he said. ``Everyone knew we were going to come back and win this game.'' ... Six relievers combined to hold the Cubs scoreless over eight innings. ``I've got to credit our bullpen for the way they came in and shut those guys down; that's a good-hitting team,'' Hall said. ``They didn't make any mistakes late in the ballgame.''
``I have a lot of respect for the umpires, no doubt about it, but I didn't like the last call of the game. I said something to the home plate umpire about his call. We said some words and it got a little heated, but that was all. The crew chief intervened to try to calm it some, and we said our words and then it was over with.''
SAN DIEGO: C Josh Bard, on the 15-day DL with a left groin strain, caught five innings and had a double and two singles in an extended spring training game Tuesday. Bard will be the designated hitter in an extended spring training game Wednesday and catch again on Thursday. He said he could be ready to be activated Friday. ... The Padres have seven relievers after sending Aaron Rakers to Triple-A Portland on Monday. ... RHP Jake Peavy starts against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. Peavy is 8-8 against Arizona, and his 5.56 ERA is the highest against any opponent he's faced more than twice.
l throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. Manager Bob Melvin said Owings could be activated for the opener of a four-game series against the New York Mets on May 3.
SAN FRANCISCO: OF Barry Bonds spoke briefly with reporters and said he didn't want to talk about himself or the home-run record he's chasing. ``Let's talk about how our team is doing,'' said Bonds, who entered having hit five homers in his previous seven games to move within 15 of Henry Aaron's record of 755. Bonds praised first-year Giants manager Bruce Bochy, saying, ``You can't say enough about how well he's handled the situation, how well he's handled us.'' And the San Francisco slugger also said he was enjoying Alex Rodriguez's hot streak. ``A-Rod, I'm so happy for him - it's great, it's phenomenal,'' Bonds said. ``I hope he hits a hundred (homers), I really do.'' ... The Giants brought a five-game winning streak into the series - their longest since they won six straight late in the 2005 season. ... Omar Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove shortstop, turned 40 Tuesday. He became the 17th major leaguer 40 or older to play at least one game at shortstop.
LOS ANGELES: RHP Derek Lowe entered Tuesday night's game with 994 strikeouts. LHP Randy Wolf, who pitches against the Giants on Wednesday night, has fanned 996 batters in his career. ... Manager Grady Little said no decision has been made regarding when RHP Jason Schmidt will begin throwing. ``He's still in a holding situation before he starts throwing again,'' Little said. Schmidt, on the disabled list because inflammation in his pitching shoulder, is 1-2 with a 7.36 ERA and hasn't pitched since April 14. Schmidt's wife, Bethany, gave birth to the couple's second son and third child on Sunday. ... OF Juan Pierre led major leaguers with 14 hits and 11 runs scored last week. He went 14-for-32, raising his batting average to .280.

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