SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- Danny Graves jinxed a good thing.
The Cincinnati Reds' superstitious closer gave up his first run
of spring training -- on Ruben Sierra's sixth-inning triple
Wednesday -- and came away from a 5-4 victory over the New York
Yankees feeling a deep sense of relief.
"I know it's bad to say," Graves said. "I still try to get
guys out, to not let them score. But I'm really glad that
Graves, who saved 41 games last season, was getting antsy as he
went deeper into spring training with a perfect ERA -- 10
appearances, 11 innings, no runs, eight hits allowed.
He openly talked about the scoreless streak this week, hoping
he'd get nicked for a run before he left Florida. The Yankees
granted his wish.
He took over in the sixth inning for Paul Wilson, who will start
the Reds' season opener next Monday. Tino Martinez singled to open
the inning and Sierra drove him home with a triple to right-center.
John Flaherty followed with an RBI single, and Graves' fears
It's the only time he'll be happy to get hit.
"When the season starts, you want to go as long as you can
without giving up anything," Graves said. "You'll never hear me
during the season say anything about jinxing anybody.
"I didn't want it to happen. I want to get the bad innings out
of the way because it never fails that if you do great during the
spring, you get there during the season and everything crumbles at
Sierra also hit a solo homer off Wilson, who allowed six hits
and one run in his final appearance before the opener.
The Yankees got a solid performance from right-hander Carl
Pavano, making his final appearance before a season-opening series
at Yankee Stadium against the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Pavano allowed six hits and four runs in six innings, striking
out five. Joe Randa doubled twice and was hit by a pitch, extending
his hitting tear to 11-for-19 in his last seven games. D'Angelo
Jimenez also had a single and a run-scoring triple off Pavano, who
had a 2.88 ERA this spring.
"That's the best I've felt all spring," Pavano said. "The
season's coming up, this was my last start. This is a good time to
feel great. I've gotten better every start."
Ryan Freel, limited by a strained thigh for the last week,
started in center for the Reds and hit a solo homer in the seventh
off Buddy Groom, who hadn't allowed a run in six appearances.
Ken Griffey Jr. got a day off after playing most of a
10-inning game the previous night. The Reds are being cautious with
the center fielder, who had surgery to reattach a torn hamstring
last August. ... The Yankees expect Tony Womack and Jason Giambi
back in the lineup Thursday. Womack was hit on the left knee by a
pitch Monday. Giambi has had a tight left hamstring. ... The
39-year-old Groom, a non-roster invitee to spring training, will
start the season with Triple-A Columbus. The Yankees plan to begin
the year with 12 pitchers, all of whom are on major league
contracts. Groom has a clause in his contract that allows him to
become a free agent on May 1 if he is still in the minors. The
left-hander believes a spot on a major league roster somewhere
should open up by that time. "There's no reason for me to stay in
the minors for the full season," Groom said. "I'll probably go
home if it comes to that. I would stay in shape. I don't think it
will come to that." ... New York closer Mariano Rivera is
scheduled to pitch two innings in a minor league game Thursday.