Prospects power Yankees against Astros

Flores, Cave and Bird homer in 9-4 victory

Prospects power Yankees against Astros

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Jose Altuve picked up where he left off last year.

Altuve, the reigning American League batting champion, beat out an infield single in his first at-bat of the Grapefruit League season, sparking a three-run first inning against Yankees starter Scott Bakeron Saturday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.

The Yankees got solo home runs from Ramon Flores and Jake Cave, and added six runs in the top of the ninth to rally for a 9-4 win. Rob Refsnyder delivered a tiebreaking two-run single and Greg Bird added a two-run homer for the Yanks.

Altuve, who led the Majors last year with a .341 batting average and had a franchise-record 225 hits, was in the lineup for the first time for the Astros and went 1-for-3. Houston batted around in the first inning, getting two RBIs from Chris Carter on a bases-loaded double.

"I felt better than I thought," Altuve said. "I was at home plate kind of lost in my first at-bat and I got the hit and got two more at-bats that made me feel more comfortable."

Baker needed 29 pitches to make it through the first inning for the Yankees, giving up three runs -- all earned -- and six hits, five of which were singles.

Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who won a Gold Glove in his breakout season of a year ago, held the Yankees to one hit and one walk in two innings in his first start of the spring.

"There were a few things I wanted to accomplish, just attacking the strike zone," Keuchel said. "I felt I did a good job of that in the first inning and came out pretty loopy in the second. There's a lot of room for improvement and that's why there are five or six Spring Training starts, and I look to build on that come Wednesday."

Up next for the Yankees: The Yankees will host the Nationals on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET in a game that can be watched live on MLB.TV or listened to on Gameday Audio. Competing to break camp as a member of the starting rotation, Adam Warren is scheduled to start for New York. Manager Joe Girardi said that Alex Rodriguez is expected to play for the third time this spring, either as a third baseman or as a designated hitter.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.