March 29, 1998 in Sports

Bichette Helps Rockies Out-Homer M’S In Victory

Associated Press
 

Spring training

Dante Bichette homered twice and drove in three runs as the Colorado Rockies outslugged the Seattle Mariners 8-6 Saturday at Denver in the first game of a weekend series at Coors Field that will conclude spring training.

In a game matching the top two homer-hitting teams in the majors last season, Colorado unloaded four compared to Seattle’s two.

Bichette hit his eighth and ninth homers of the spring, solo shots leading off the second and fourth innings. He broke a 6-6 tie with an RBI single in the seventh to score Larry Walker, who had doubled off losing pitcher Bob Wells (0-3).

Vinny Castilla hit his seventh homer of the exhibition season, and Todd Helton added a two-run shot.

Seattle’s Rick Wilkins hit a three-run homer off Mike DeJean in the fifth, and Jay Buhner had a two-run homer off winner Bobby Jones (2-0) in the seventh.

On other fields

At Atlanta, Brian Giles hit a two-out homer in the ninth inning and five Cleveland pitchers combined for a two-hitter and 16 strikeouts in a 4-3 win.

Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer in the first inning, but that was Atlanta’s only hit until two outs in the ninth.

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Al Leiter, one of the many players traded away by the Florida Marlins, pitched five shutout innings as the Mets beat Baltimore 4-0.

Leiter (2-0) allowed four hits and one walk in lowering his ERA this spring to 0.60. He struck out four and allowed only two runners past first base.

Paul Sorrento, last year’s Seattle first baseman, drove in four runs and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat a split squad of St. Louis Cardinals 8-7 at St. Petersburg, Fla.

At Fort Myers, Fla., Tim Wakefield pitched six scoreless innings and former Mariners farmhand Jason Varitek hit a three-run homer, leading Boston past Minnesota 10-5.

Weiss will hit first

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox said shortstop Walt Weiss - not outfielder Andruw Jones - will likely lead off when the season opens Tuesday against Milwaukee.

The 20-year-old Jones has spent most of spring training trying to master the top spot in the batting order. But he has failed miserably, hitting only .200 while striking out 23 times in 65 at-bats.

“We’re probably going to toy with it all season long,” Cox said. “But right now, we’ll probably open with Weiss at leadoff hitter until Jones starts hitting a little better.”

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