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Sabathia allows 2 runs, Yankees beat Pirates 5-4

TAMPA, Fla. -- Fifth starter front-runner CC Sabathia allowed two runs and three hits over four innings as a New York Yankees split squad beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 Tuesday in a game shortened to five innings because of rain.

The former ace, competing with Ivan Nova for the starting role, gave up a two-run single in the fourth to Jose Osuna. The lefty struck out two and walked two in a game that was played mostly in a steady rain.

Sabathia said he assumes that he will be in the rotation. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said a decision will be made in the next couple days.

"I thought today was his best outing," Girardi said. "I thought he was pretty good. Some tougher conditions. I thought his cutter was excellent. I thought his change up got better as the day went on."

Sabathia was coming off an outing Thursday in which he allowed two runs over five innings against Tampa Bay.

"I feel good, man," Sabathia said. "Top to bottom, I feel good. I'm confident in what I'm throwing. What I'm trying to do to get hitters out. I've got no complaints. So, I'll be ready to go."

The 35-year-old was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA last year, when he was slowed by his surgically repaired right knee. Using a tighter brace, he went 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in his last five starts.

"I'm excited," Sabathia said. "I think all the work in the offseason paid off."

Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer during a three-run second inning against Pirates minor leaguer Steven Brault. Beltran also had a sacrifice fly during a two-run third.

STARTING TIME

Pirates: General manager Neal Huntington said Jeff Locke has won a spot in the rotation. The left-hander went six innings in a minor league game against Pirates' Triple-A players. ... Ryan Vogelsong and Juan Nicasio remain in the competition to be the fifth starter. ... Brault, expected to start the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, allowed five runs and five hits in three innings.

Yankees: Sabathia threw 41 of 70 pitches for strikes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: INF Jordy Mercer (right eye infection) didn't play. ... RHP Jared Hughes (strained left lat) will likely start the regular season on the disabled list.

Yankees: CF Jacoby Ellsbury played for the third consecutive day after missing a week due to a bruised right wrist and singled three at-bats. He is 1 for 9 since returning.

MOVING DAY

Pirates: Huntington said OF Matt Joyce made the opening day roster. ... INF Jake Goebbert, and RHPs Trey Haley and Robert Scahill were optioned to Indianapolis. ... OFs Antoan Richardson and Danny Ortiz, RHP Curtis Partch and LHP Robert Zarate were reassigned to the minor league camp.

Yankees: Girardi said Bryan Mitchell will be on the opening day roster, likely filling the long man and spot start spot previously held by Adam Warren, who was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Starlin Castro.

UP NEXT

Pirates: Jonathon Niese is scheduled to face Boston's David Price on Wednesday.

Yankees: Nova will go against Atlanta on Wednesday. Closer Andrew Miller and setup man Dellin Betances will also throw.