Strong pitching, late home run lift Yanks past Pirates

Rogers, Whitley each toss two scoreless; Austin's shot snaps tie in eighth

Strong pitching, late home run lift Yanks past Pirates

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Tyler Austin threw out the potential lead run at the plate in the sixth inning, and two innings later, hit a towering homer to snap a tie and give the Yankees a 2-1 exhibition victory over the Pirates on Thursday afternoon at McKechnie Field.

Austin hammered right-hander Deolis Guerra's pitch far over McKechnie Field's left-field stands to snap the tie he had preserved and give New York (1-1-1) its first Grapefruit League victory of the spring.

Esmil Rogers and Chase Whitley each hurled two shutout innings for the Yankees in front of a sellout crowd of 7,880.

The Bucs have been held to two runs in 24 innings since scoring six in the first three innings of their preseason opener on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

The Pirates had drawn into a 1-1 tie in the sixth on a two-out RBI single off Cesar Vargas by Jaff Decker -- who then was thrown out at home trying to score on Delbinson Romero's single to Austin in right.

The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a wind-aided, two-out, run-scoring double by former Pittsburgh first baseman Garrett Jones, whose blooper fell among center fielder Starling Marte, right fielder Gregory Polanco and second baseman Sean Rodriguez and scored Chris Young from second.

Left-hander Francisco Liriano and righty Charlie Morton, two-fifths of the Bucs' rotation, each pitched two shutout innings in their first appearances of the spring. Andrew McCutchen, serving as the designated hitter, went 0-for-3 in his spring debut.

Yankees up next: The Yankees will have a full day of activity Friday, scheduled to play their first split-squad games of the spring. Bryan Mitchell draws the start for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest on MLB.TV against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., with Cole Hamels on the mound for Philadelphia. Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley will headline the Yanks' lineup for that game.

At 7:05 p.m. ET, Alex Rodriguez will play in his second game of the spring, scheduled to serve as the designated hitter when the Yankees host the Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Carlos Beltran is set to make his spring debut in right field. Chris Capuano will start for New York in a game broadcast on Gameday Audio.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.