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M’S Pounce On Rockies

From Wire Reports

Jay Buhner hit another tape-measure homer as Seattle’s first 10 batters reached base, and the Mariners scored 11 first-inning runs to beat the Colorado Rockies 12-7 Sunday.

Buhner’s two-run drive went completely out of Peoria Stadium and was estimated at 450 feet. It was his second long homer in three days.

Ken Griffey Jr., who went 2 for 3, added a walk and a three-run homer in the inning, helping Seattle win its seventh straight.

Colorado starter Roger Bailey failed to retire a batter, allowing 10 runs, seven hits and three walks.

Mariner starter Bill Swift got the win, allowing one hit in three shutout innings with four strikeouts.

Seattle led 12-2 in the ninth before Greg McCarthy walked four straight batters, then gave up a grand slam to Mike Coolbaugh.

Joey Cora, Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez and David Segui had two hits apiece for Seattle.

One of a kind love affair

One of the more interesting love stories in baseball is Mark McGwire’s infatuation with St. Louis - and vice versa. Last year, the Cardinals had to open the gates a half-hour early because of the demand to watch McGwire take batting practice.

“He might be more popular than any player who has ever played here, other than Stan Musial,” says longtime St. Louis baseball writer Rick Hummel of the Post Dispatch. “He’s like a rock star,” Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty said. “Everywhere he goes, he draws a thousand people.”

What McGwire likes is how polite Missouri fans are. “I got followed home quite a few times,” he says. “I’d pull into the driveway, and people would get out of their cars to ask for autographs, and I’d say, ‘Sorry, folks, but this is my private time. I’d be more than happy to sign if you see me at the stadium or out somewhere.’ And you know what they’d say? They’d say, ‘OK, see you later,’ and they walked away. You don’t see that in many places.”

Irabu admits he was wrong

A day after stomping on the foot of a Japanese cameraman and destroying videotape, New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu admitted his conduct was wrong.

“I realize what happened Saturday has a lot of ramifications,” Irabu said through an interpreter. “I don’t want the situation to happen again.”

Irabu met Sunday with GM Brian Cashman for 75 minutes. Cashman said the team was reviewing the situation and will decide within a few days whether to discipline the pitcher. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner declined comment.

“The situation bothers me, but I’ve got to collect all the information before I make a decision,” Cashman said. “He said, ‘I’m sorry.’ We don’t want any player or employee taking things into his own hands.”

The strained relations predate Irabu signing with the Yankees last year.

“They’ve been following me around and chasing me a lot,” Irabu said. ” The responses I give them they don’t write accurately. Basically, they write what they want.”

Irabu holds separate news conferences with English and Japanese-speaking reporters following his appearances.

Hart led the way

Cleveland Indians GM John Hart was the first executive to sign those with zero- to three-years’ experience, who are ineligible for salary arbitration, to long-term deals. The Philadelphia Phillies even outdid Hart, signing third baseman Scott Rolen, the N.L. Rookie of the Year, to a four-year contract for $10 million.

“It’s a bargain,” Phillies third base coach John Vukovich says. “This kid’s the goods.”

Considering the Boston Red Sox are thinking of signing shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, the A.L. Rookie of the Year, to a seven-year deal for between $30 and $40 million, Rolen may have sold himself short. But Rolen, 22, is more down-to-earth than most players his age.

“My dream was to play major-league baseball,” he said. “I lived that dream. Who’d have thought there would be more to it?”

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