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Yanks' 4 HRs erase 4-0 deficit

3/8/2004

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- The A-Rod circus rolled into town,
thrilling fans and leaving the Boston Red Sox with still another
loss to the New York Yankees.

A sign-waving, sellout crowd watched the Yankees win 11-7 on
Sunday, 4½ months after they beat the Red Sox in their last meeting
in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Commemorative pins for the game sold for $5.67, one spectator
wore a shirt that said, "I don't brake for Yankee fans," and
lines outside the ballpark were long hours before gametime.

Alex Rodriguez had little impact on the much hyped spring
training game -- a groundout and an infield single against the team
he nearly joined in December.

"They're fun. They're easy to get up for," Rodriguez said of
games between the rivals. "We look forward to an unbelievable
summer."

Nomar Garciaparra had no impact on the game at all, diminishing
the drama by skipping the game with a minor injury to his right
Achilles' tendon that should sideline him for one more day.

"There's no need for me to play," said Garciaparra, who would
have been traded had Boston obtained Rodriguez. "It's spring
training."

Asked if he might be ducking the confrontation with Rodriguez,
traded by Texas last month, he laughed and said, "It's not even
worth a comment."

His replacement, Pokey Reese, did fine with a homer and
excellent defense.

"This is the best rivalry in sports," Reese said. "It doesn't
get any bigger than this."

Shortstop Derek Jeter hit one of New York's four homers but made
a throwing error on Boston's first batter, Gabe Kapler, that led to
three unearned runs in a four-run first.

The Red Sox blew that comfortable lead just as they had done
last Oct. 16 in Game 7 when they squandered a 5-2 lead in the
eighth and lost 6-5 on Aaron Boone's solo homer in the 11th.

On Sunday, the Red Sox gave up a 4-0 lead as the Yankees hit
four homers -- two by former Boston first baseman Tony Clark and one
each by Jeter and Ruben Sierra. Clark and Miguel Cairo each had
three hits for New York.

After Bronson Arroyo shut out the Yankees for three innings,
they reached Jason Shiell for six runs in the fourth then tagged
former Yankee Ed Yarnall for four more in the sixth, making it
10-5.

"The fans were into it, but in spring training you don't have
everyone playing," Jeter said. "I really don't think it was that
intense. It brought a lot of media here, but players-wise, it's
still spring training."

The Red Sox had to reject about 20 requests for media
credentials. At least the usual large Japanese contingent didn't
make the trip from the Yankees camp in Tampa, two hours to the
north, since Hideki Matsui didn't travel for the game.

Mariano Rivera, who pitched a perfect third inning, got the win
just as he did in Game 7 when he finished with three shutout
innings.

But Jose Contreras, another player signed by the Yankees who was
courted by the Red Sox, allowed four runs on five hits in two
innings.

"He struggled a lot with his control and a team that hits the
fastball as well as the Red Sox, you just don't get away with it,"
Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

But Boston president Larry Lucchino, who stoked the rivalry's
fires last season by calling the Yankees "the Evil Empire," had
some kind words about Contreras.

"He'll be fine," Lucchino said.

Arroyo made quick work of the Yankees in the first when Kenny
Lofton popped to second, Jeter lined to shortstop and Rodriguez
grounded to shortstop on the first pitch.

"He had to get that first swing off his back, I'm sure,"
Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. "He was a little more
aggressive than he usually is."

Fans booed loudly when Rodriguez came to the plate in the first
inning.

But for Arroyo and the rest of the players, it was just another
chance to prepare for the regular season.

"The way it ended last year, obviously there was a little more
excitement in the air," he said. "But to me it's just getting
your work in."