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Contreras doesn't impress Red Sox

Beaten out by the New York Yankees to sign Jose Contreras, the Boston Red Sox got their first close-up look at the Cuban pitcher.

And the verdict?

"I wasn't impressed," Boston's Shea Hillenbrand said after the Yankees' 7-4 win Tuesday at Fort Myers, Fla.

"Everybody hypes him up to be this big thing. He's average. He threw average today," he said.

Hillenbrand, however, added that Contreras wasn't throwing at full speed and should be all right during the season.

Contreras struggled in his second straight outing, allowing three runs and four hits in three innings, including a long homer to Manny Ramirez.

"I threw more breaking balls because I didn't feel I had a strong fastball," he said through an interpreter.

In his first spring training outing, Contreras allowed five runs — including a grand slam to Adam Dunn — in his first inning of a 9-3 loss to Cincinnati.

John Smoltz and Rick Ankiel also had trouble.

Smoltz gave up two runs and three hits in one inning as the Montreal Expos defeated the Atlanta Braves 6-4 at Viera, Fla.

The Braves' closer entered with a 2-0 lead in the fifth, and gave up Fernando Tatis' single, Ron Calloway's double, Henry Mateo's single and Wil Cordero's RBI grounder.

"I thought he threw great," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I was more than happy with his stuff. He only gave up one hard-hit ball. He had bite on his slider, and when he throws that well, nobody can hit him."

The following inning, Calloway hit a three-run homer off Darren Holmes.

At Jupiter, Fla., Ankiel gave up three runs and five hits in one inning as the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5.

Ankiel entered in the seventh with the score tied at 2. The Cardinals' reliever took the loss in his second outing of the spring, giving up four straight two-out hits.

Ankiel, who missed all of last season with an elbow injury and has been plagued by wildness, faced seven batters. He walked none and struck out one.

"Physically, I feel fine. Maybe the next time I'll get them to hit the ball at someone. But I'm happy I got my pitches to work," Ankiel said. "Facing that many batters, I got more work, and that's a positive. I can't complain. They just didn't hit the ball at people today."

Ankiel, 23, was an 11-game winner as a Cardinals starter in 2000 but lost control of his pitches during the postseason and spent most of the next season in the minors.

In other games:

GIANTS 10, PADRES 10: At Scottsdale, Ariz., Barry Bonds hit his third home run of the spring.

Bonds hit a solo shot in the third inning and stayed at home plate to watch the ball sail onto the knoll in right field. The homer came on his seventh official at-bat of spring training.

Padres pitcher Rob Ramsay pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his first appearance since surgery to remove a brain tumor on Jan. 23, 2002. He continues to receive chemotherapy treatment every six weeks. The game was called after 10 innings.

REDS 4, INDIANS 2: At Winter Haven, Fla., Reggie Taylor hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the ninth and Danny Graves, seeking a spot in the Reds' starting rotation after four years as the team's closer, allowed one run and seven hits in three innings.

Reds shortstop Barry Larkin sustained a bruised right elbow when hit by a pitch from Cleveland starter Ricardo Rodriguez. "Barry should be fine," manager Bob Boone said. "I'm glad it was not worse."

TWINS 11, ORIOLES 1: At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Todd Sears and Michael Restovich hit two-run homers off Pat Hentgen, and Jose Morban connected off Omar Daal.

Hentgen allowed five runs and seven hits in three innings. The former Cy Young Award winner is vying for a spot in the starting rotation after missing most of the 2002 season following elbow-ligament replacement surgery.

BLUE JAYS 10, PIRATES 9: At Dunedin, Fla., Orlando Hudson homered, doubled and singled, driving in three runs. Playing second base, Hudson made a diving catch that ended the third inning with a runner on third.

ASTROS 2, PHILLIES 1: At Clearwater, Fla., Alan Zinter and Brian Hunter hit solo homers off closer Jose Mesa in the eighth. Mesa, who blew a major league-high nine save opportunities last season, is 0-for-2 at holding leads this spring.

DEVIL RAYS 2, TIGERS 1: At St. Petersburg, Fla., Tampa Bay prospect Rocco Baldelli homered for his first spring hit and Hector Ortiz snapped a seventh-inning tie with a run-scoring single.

CUBS 5, ANGELS 4: At Mesa, Ariz., Mark Prior allowed one hit over three scoreless innings as Chicago stopped a four-game losing streak, improving to 4-2. David Kelton hit a two-run homer and scored the go-ahead run for the Cubs.

ATHLETICS 4, ROYALS 3: At Phoenix, Mark Mulder allowed one run and four hits in four innings, and Adam Morrissey singled with two outs in the ninth to drive in the winning run. A's third base coach Ron Washington left the game with an apparent kidney stone and was taken to a hospital for observation.

ROCKIES 6, DIAMONDBACKS 2: At Tucson, Ariz., Todd Helton hit his first homer this spring.

Arizona's Craig Counsell played for the first time since neck surgery last fall, going 0-for-3 and committing an error when the ball took a tricky hop on the only grounder hit to him at third base.

Denny Neagle, the Rockies' scheduled opening-day starter, had his second strong outing, allowing one run and one hit in three innings.

MARINERS 6, BREWERS 3: At Peoria, Ariz., Gil Meche, trying to come back from two major operations on his right shoulder in 2001, allowed two runs, three hits and three walks in three innings.

John Olerud hit a three-run homer and had four RBIs for the Mariners, who won their fourth straight, and Pat Borders hit three doubles.

WHITE SOX 9, RANGERS 8: At Surprise, Ariz., Juan Gonzalez hit a two-run double in his first 'A' game of the spring, but Texas wasted a 7-1 lead.

Mario Valenzuela had a pair of RBI doubles for Chicago, in the ninth to tie it at 8 and the other in the 11th for the winning run off Brian Shouse.

Texas starter Ismael Valdes was scratched after his neck stiffened up during workouts earlier in the day. He instead threw 40 pitches in a simulated game.

METS 4, MARLINS 3: At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Jeromy Burnitz homered for his first hit this spring and the Mets beat Florida.