PITTSBURGH — CC Sabathia's left arm felt fine. The radar gun suggested otherwise. So did the results.
Josh Bell hit his second home run in as many games, and the Pittsburgh Pirates got to Sabathia early for a 6-3 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.
Jordy Mercer turned an 86 mph fastball from Sabathia (2-1) into a solo shot leading off the bottom of the first. Bell, a switch hitter, followed an inning later by taking an 87 mph cutter and sending it to the left field bleachers for a two-run homer , his first from the right side in his brief career.
"You only feel the ball off the bat like that every once in a while," Bell said. "To feel it like that off that calibre of a pitcher, especially one that's been on a run, is definitely cool."
Jacoby Ellsbury had three of New York's 10 hits, but the Yankees couldn't overcome Sabathia's first shaky outing this season and an error on a dropped popup by second baseman Starlin Castro that led to a pair of unearned runs in the seventh. Sabathia gave up three earned runs in his first three starts, but the Pirates put up four runs against him their first time through the order.
The Yankees started their second trip of the season eager to build off an 8-1 homestand fueled by pitching and power. Neither showed up against the Pirates. Chase Headley's third-inning double was the only extra base hit for New York, which went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees had the tying run at the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings but came up empty.
"The good thing is we're having opportunities," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "We've got to take advantage of them."
Juan Nicasio (1-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief after Tyler Glasnow faltered with two outs in the fifth. Tony Watson escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth for his fifth save as Pittsburgh's offence - which managed all of three runs while getting swept in St. Louis earlier this week — sprang to life during a rare visit by the Yankees.
A dip in Sabathia's velocity helped. The 36-year-old regularly hit 92-93 mph on the gun during his first three starts. He wasn't nearly as sharp in his record 59th interleague start.
"Stuff was just a little short today," Sabathia said. "Tried to battle and keep the team as close as possible."
Sabathia managed to get through five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, with two walks and two strikeouts as his ERA ticked up from 1.47 to 2.70.
FEELING ALL RIGHT
The Pirates will mix and match in right field for the time being with Andrew McCutchen now back in centre field after All-Star Starling Marte was hit with an 80-game drug suspension on Tuesday. Jose Osuna started in right and picked up his first major league hit with a triple off Sabathia in the bottom of the second. Adam Frazier came on as a defensive replacement in the seventh and made a fine over-the-shoulder grab at the warning track to take a hit away from Starlin Castro.
Glasnow was on the cusp of being eligible for his first big league victory but couldn't get out of the fifth after second baseman Josh Harrison allowed two runs to score on a booted ground ball. Still, Glasnow gave up three runs, two earned, in 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five while struggling with efficiency. Glasnow needed 102 pitches to get 14 outs.
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez will play catch from 90 feet on Saturday as he works his way back from a strained right triceps that's kept him out since April 8. Manager Joe Girardi said Sanchez needs to be able to throw 120 feet comfortably before thinking about a rehab assignment. ... SS Didi Gregorious went 2 for 3 and played six innings in a rehab start for Class A Tampa. Gregorious is out with a strained right (throwing) shoulder.
PAYING TRIBUTE: The Pirates honoured former Steelers president and chairman Dan Rooney — who died last week at age 84 — with a pregame moment of silence. The team also painted the Steelers logo on the pitcher's mound and put an epitaph ono the dirt behind home plate. Rooney grew up and lived in Pittsburgh's North Side neighbourhood, which is also home to PNC Park.
Yankees: Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.44) looks for his third straight win on Saturday. Pineda has 23 strikeouts against just one walk this season.
Pirates: Jameson Taillon (1-0, 0.90) has been the bright spot on Pittsburgh's young starting staff. Taillon held the Cubs to one unearned run in seven innings in his last start.
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