New York 8, Houston 1

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez broke out of his slump in a
big way.

Rodriguez stopped an 0-for-13 slide with a two-run homer, and
the New York Yankees beat the Houston Astros 8-1 Thursday night.

"This spring is a little different," said Rodriguez, who
played for the United States in the World Baseball Classic. "I
feel pretty good about myself. I just feel that I'm behind. I feel
like I'm playing catch-up."

Rodriguez hit an opposite-field shot off Carlos Hernandez during
a three-run fourth that put New York ahead 4-0. Hideki Matsui added
a solo drive later in the inning.

"It's nice to get your hits, but at the same time, it's more
important to get good at-bats," Rodriguez said. "Get good
tracking and really get yourself prepared for opening day."

Rodriguez remained in the lineup Thursday after being hit on the
left shin by a grounder during batting practice. He finished

"A nice little bruise," Rodriguez said. "It should be OK."

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera worked a perfect sixth. He has
given up one run, one hit and struck out 10 in seven innings this

"Everything is good," he said.

It was the first time this year Rivera pitched in consecutive

"Right now he has a good look about him," manager Joe Torre

Yankees starter Scott Proctor, filling in for injured Jaret
Wright, allowed two hits over four scoreless innings. The
right-hander is bidding for a swing role on the staff.

Proctor retired his first 10 batters before loading the bases on
two singles and a walk in the fourth. He worked out of the jam by
striking out Mike Lamb and getting an inning-ending flyout from
Jason Lane.

Wright, sidelined by back spasms, played catch for the first
time since getting hurt last Sunday. He might throw off a bullpen
mound in the next few days.

Hernandez gave up four runs and four hits in four innings. It
was the second exhibition appearance for the left-hander, who
pitched for Venezuela in the WBC.

The Astros got an eighth-inning solo homer from Luke Scott.

Luis Garcia had a three-run homer in the seventh for New York.