By BOB BELLONE
DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jose Bautista had only three hits in his first eight exhibition games for the Toronto Blue Jays. On Saturday, he looked more like his normal star self.
Bautista hit a two-run homer, doubled and scored twice for the Blue Jays in a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
In the first inning, Bautista drove a cut fastball by Doug Fister over the left-field wall for a two-run homer, his third shot of the spring.
Moments later, the right fielder made a throw that first baseman Adam Lind relayed to cut down Alex Avila at the plate.
Bautista doubled in his next at-bat, and the Blue Jays chased Fister with two more runs before the right-hander could record an out in the fourth.
“It’s been rough this spring, but trying to get things back into fine tune is where we’re at right now,” said Fister, whose 11.57 ERA through three exhibition outings is no match for his 3.48 career mark.
Fister found some consolation in his five strikeouts.
“We had talked and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to really try and get a feel for the curveball today,” he said. “And you know what, I think we achieved that goal.”
Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero surrendered a solo homer to Andy Dirks in the top of the first. He completed his third spring outing by escaping a bases-loaded jam after Detroit pulled even at 2 in the second.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is confident enough in Romero that he doesn’t intend to skip over his fifth starter in the rotation when open dates early in the season provide such a temptation.
“We’ll let those guys all do their thing because we feel so good about all of them,” Gibbons said. “Usually you do that if you’ve got some guy who’s that question mark in that fifth slot.”
Detroit loaded the bases with none out in the ninth on three singles, but reliever Chad Beck retired the next three batters.
Rays 15, Phillies 7
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sean Rodriguez and Shelley Duncan homered Saturday and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 15-7.
Ryan Howard hit his fourth spring homer for the Phillies. Ben Revere and Humberto Quintero each added three hits.
Rays starter Jeff Niemann allowed one run and four hits in 3 2-3 innings.
Phillies starter John Lannan gave up four runs in the third, including a two-run homer by Rodriguez.
The Rays scored four times in the seventh and six more in the eighth, battering relievers Antonio Bastardo and B.J. Rosenberg.
Royals 13, Giants 2
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Johnny Giavotella and Brett Hayes each drove in four runs, Yordano Ventura pitched three hitless innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the San Francisco Giants 13-2 Saturday.
Billy Butler and David Lough each added three hits. The Royals finished with 20 hits, including nine in 1 2-3 innings against Giants starter Yusmeiro Petit.
Brandon Belt hit his fourth homer for the Giants.
Ventura, considered the Royals’ top pitching prospect, made his first start of the spring and fourth appearance overall. He got this chance when Wade Davis was scratched with shoulder soreness, and extended his hitless streak to five innings. He walked two and struck out three.
Giants reliever Javier Lopez made his spring debut, allowing a run on three hits in one inning. He struck out two.
Indians 9, Cubs 2
MESA, Ariz. — Jason Kipnis hit his first home run of the spring and Cedric Hunter also connected, leading the Cleveland Indians over the Chicago Cubs 9-2 Saturday.
Kipnis came into the game hitting .227 with two RBIs. He led off the fourth with a home run against reliever Brooks Raley.
Hunter had three hits, including a three-run shot.
Indians starter David Huff went three innings in a bid to find a roster spot as the fifth starter or in the bullpen. The left-hander allowed four hits and two earned runs, striking out three.
Javier Baez, a 20-year-old Cubs shortstop, homered after David DeJesus doubled to open the game.
Cubs starter Chris Rusin was bumped back after Friday’s rainout, but didn’t show any ill effects as he threw three shutout innings.
Rangers (ss) 5, Padres 2
PEORIA, Ariz. — Texas starter Matt Harrison was scratched because of an inflamed toe on his left foot, missing a Rangers’ split squad’s 5-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
Neil Ramirez and Tanner Scheppers both pitched scoreless innings, starting a nine-pitcher six-hitter.
Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland sat out with a tight right quadriceps and is day to day.
Jim Adduci and Brandon Allen hit two-run homers for the Rangers, and Jeff Baker had three hits and an RBI.
Kyle Blanks had a two-run homer for the Padres and is hitting .393 (11 for 28).
San Diego starter Eric Stults allowed three runs — two earned — and five hits in three innings, giving up Allen’s homer.
Twins 5, Pirates 4
BRADENTON, Fla. — A.J. Burnett can joke about his control — or lack of it.
Burnett needed 45 pitches to get through four innings Saturday during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
“I said, ‘What? Don’t I normally have that after two innings?’” Burnett recalled.
He went back out for the fifth and wound up allowing two runs and two hits in 4 2-3 innings. Burnett hadn’t pitched past the second in his first two spring training starts, when he ran up a 13.50 ERA over 3 1-3 innings.
“I felt a lot better than the last time out,” he said.
The 36-year-old Burnett is preparing for the first opening-day start of his big leaguer career after going 16-10 last season.
“It’s just good to get out there every five days because it is a process,” Burnett said. “We’ve been sitting for four months. This was obviously a lot sharper than my last two, and I expect the next one to be a lot sharper. Each time you get out there you’re going to be more comfortable.”
Cole De Vries made his second start and fourth appearance of spring training for Minnesota and gave up one run — not earned — and one hit in three innings.
De Vries hasn’t allowed an earned run in spring training this year. he was 5-5 with a 4.11 ERA last year in 16 starts and one relief appearance, and he’s taking the approach that a rotation spot is his to lose.
“If the staff is looking at it as if it’s not my spot, I want to make it as hard as I can on them,” he said. “And if it is my spot, I want to prove that there’s no doubt that I deserve it.”
Rockies 8, Angels 6
TEMPE, Ariz. — Albert Pujols hit his first spring training home run, a third-inning drive off Juan Nicasio on Saturday during the Los Angeles Angels’ 8-6 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Pujols, coming off right knee surgery during the offseason, was 0 for 3 Tuesday against Cincinnati in his spring training debut. The three-time MVP again was the designated hitter against Colorado and went 1 for 3.
Pujols struck out in the first against Nicasio and also grounded into a double play in the fifth against Josh Outman.
Troy Tulowitzki hit his first home run of the exhibition season, a third-inning shot off Jason Vargas.
Making his second start, Vargas allowed four runs and eight hits in three innings. Nicasio, in his third start and fourth appearance, gave up four runs and seven hits in 3 2-3 innings.
Dodgers 3, Mariners 2
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Alex Castellanos hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning, lifting the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Seattle Mariners 3-2 Saturday.
Castellanos hit his third homer this spring, connecting against Yoervis Medina.
Aaron Harang, competing for a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation, allowed two runs and six hits in three innings. In five innings this spring, he has given up six runs on 11 hits.
Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run single off Harang.