Justin Morneau, Carlos Lee and Mike Piazza all were off to fast starts this spring; they just didn't have any home runs to show for it.
That changed Saturday.
Morneau went 3-for-3 with his first homer of the spring in Minnesota's 7-3 victory over Pittsburgh. The AL MVP is hitting .312 (10-for-32) after batting .321 with 34 home runs and 130 RBIs last season. Lee connected for his first drive in Houston's 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Piazza broke through with his first homer in Oakland's 11-4 loss to Milwaukee.
"In the spring, I just worry about making solid contact and having good hitting mechanics," Morneau said in Bradenton, Fla. "You can't go up to the plate this early in the year thinking about hitting a ball out of the park."
Lee went 2-for-2, hitting a leadoff homer in the fourth inning. Lee, who signed a $100 million, six-year contract with Houston in the offseason, also singled in a run in the first in Vero Beach, Fla.
Houston scored three times in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead, but the Dodgers tied it with a run in the sixth and scored three more in the eighth.
Piazza went 2-for-2, raising his spring average to .520 as he shows no signs of trouble adjusting to his new role as designated hitter.
Joe Kennedy, the favorite for Oakland's fifth starter's spot, was shelled for nine runs in 21â3 innings against the Brewers.
"He's had a track record of success before," manager Bob Geren said. "He has three more starts. We're staying positive. The results aren't there obviously. But we're staying confident."
The Brewers had a balanced attack with 17 hits, seven players driving in runs and 10 scoring runs. Rickie Weeks, Bill Hall, Johnny Estrada and Kevin Mench all drove in two runs apiece as Milwaukee jumped on Kennedy from the start.
In other games:
Tigers 8, Blue Jays 6
At Dunedin, Fla., Detroit manager Jim Leyland said Jeremy Bonderman would start on opening day. The right-hander allowed five runs and five hits in four innings against the Blue Jays.
Gary Sheffield also returned to the Tigers after missing time to handle a legal matter and went 2-4 and scored a run. Sheffield hadn't played since Monday.
Orioles (ss) 7, Marlins 3
At Jupiter, Fla., Florida left-hander Dontrelle Willis allowed three runs in five innings. The teams used designated hitters after Willis complained about his sore right thumb. He expects to be able to swing a bat in his next start.
Orioles (ss) 9, Mets (ss) 0
At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Erik Bedard tossed five scoreless innings for the Orioles. He walked two, struck out six and lowered his spring earned-run average to 0.64. Baltimore tagged Aaron Sele for six runs in the first inning.
Nationals 13, Mets (ss) 1
At Port St. Lucie, Fla., Chan Ho Park walked the first two batters of the game and allowed seven runs in three innings. Ryan Church went 3-for-6 with four RBIs.
Padres 7, Cubs 3
At Mesa, Ariz., San Diego's Greg Maddux originally was scheduled to start against his former team, but a mild abdominal strain kept him back at the Padres' camp, where he was supposed to work a minor league game.
Derrek Lee hit a three-run homer for the Cubs.
Reds 2, Red Sox 1
At Fort Myers, Fla., Kyle Lohse allowed three hits in five shutout innings and Chris Denorfia homered for the Reds. Cincinnati's runs came off Jonathan Papelbon, making his first start in his transition from dominant closer to No. 4 starter for Boston.
Cardinals 9, Braves 5
At Kissimmee, Fla., Atlanta's John Smoltz yielded three runs and six hits in five innings. Scott Spiezio homered and drove in two runs for the Cardinals.
Phillies 3, Yankees 2
At Clearwater, Fla., Aaron Rowand had a two-run single and veteran Jamie Moyer had another solid outing for the Phillies, allowing one unearned run in 41â3 innings.
Angels 4, White Sox 3
At Tucson, Ariz., Jose Contreras tossed six solid innings in his longest start of the spring for the White Sox, giving up three runs and six hits. Casey Kotchman, Robb Quinlan and Howie Kendrick homered for the Angels.
Rockies 12, Giants 2
At Tucson, Ariz., Aaron Cook pitched 51â3 shutout innings and Colorado manager Clint Hurdle announced after the game the right-hander would start on opening day against Arizona on April 2.
Indians 5, Devil Rays 3
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Jason Michaels hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and Josh Barfield had two hits for Cleveland.
Rangers 4, Mariners 1
At Peoria, Ariz., Kevin Millwood allowed one unearned run and two hits in four innings for Texas.