Joe Girardi remembers the first time he caught Mariano Rivera, before the start of the 1996 season, back when he was still a player.

"I was like, 'Who is this kid?' " Girardi recalled. "I'm like, 'Man, this kid is special.' "

Girardi is the Yankees' manager now. Rivera is no longer a kid.

He's still something special, though.

The 41-year-old Rivera became the first player in major league history to make 1,000 appearances with the same team yesterday, cleaning up the ninth inning of a 7-3 victory over the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

Andruw Jones tried to steal the show by cracking a pair of two-run homers, and Mark Teixeira also hit a two-run shot, while Freddy Garcia (3-4) pitched well for 6 innings.

But once the game reached the ninth and "Enter Sandman" played over the loudspeakers at Yankee Stadium, the crowd of 43,201 knew that the day would forever belong to Mo.

"You have to be old to do that," Rivera said with a smile. "You've got to have the right combination, I guess, an organization willing to keep you around and you doing your job."

The 11-time All-Star is the 15th player to reach 1,000 appearances. Next up on the list for Rivera is former Yankee Goose Gossage, who appeared in 1,002. Jesse Orosco is the all-time leader with 1,252 appearances.

In other games:

* At Cleveland, Jon Lester coasted to his AL-leading seventh win and the Boston Red Sox bludgeoned the Indians' righthander Mitch Talbot for seven runs in the first inning on their way to a 14-2 win.

Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run homer in Boston's eruption in the first off Talbot (1-1), who hadn't started since April 11 due to a strained elbow .

Lester (7-1) allowed three hits in six shutout innings and won his seventh straight decision.

* At Minneapolis, Erik Bedard (3-4) threw six shutout innings and Franklin Gutierrez hit his first home run of the season, sending the Seattle Mariners past the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.

* At Baltimore, Adam Jones had two hits and two RBI in an eight-run fourth inning to lead the Orioles to a 9-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.

* At Arlington, Texas, C.J. Wilson (5-3) pitched into the seventh inning, Ian Kinsler's RBI single produced the go-ahead run, and the Rangers hung on to beat the Chicago White Sox, 2-1.

* At Anaheim, Calif., Torii Hunter homered in a three-run fifth inning to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-1 win over the Oakland Athletics.

* At Detroit, The game between the Tampa Bay Rays and Tigers was postponed after a 2-hour rain delay. Detroit was ahead 2-0 when the game was stopped in the third inning. The game will be made up in its entirety on June 13 in Detroit.

In other news, the Rays activated shortstop Reid Brignac from the bereavement list and placed infielder Elliot Johnson on the 15-day disabled list. Johnson sprained his left knee while sliding into third base on a failed steal attempt in Monday's game in Detroit. Brignac had missed the last three games to attend the funeral of his grandfather.

Noteworthy

* Minnesota righthander Kevin Slowey has a muscle strain in his abdomen that requires at least a week of rest and a likely stint on the disabled list, according to manager Ron Gardenhire.

* Paul Splittorff, the winningest pitcher in Kansas City history, and a popular broadcaster for the team, died at 64 at his home in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs, Mo. The team said he died of complications from skin cancer.

Drafted by the expansion Royals in the 25th round in 1968, Splittorff spent his entire 15-year career in Kansas City. He was 166-143 with a 3.81 ERA. His win total is a club record.