Jennings notches pair of hits vs. Yankees

Karns allows one earned run over three innings in second spring start

Jennings notches pair of hits vs. Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. -- Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi combined for seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings and Alex Rodriguez drove in his first run of the spring, helping the Yankees to a 4-3 victory over the Rays on Monday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Making his spring debut, Pineda was sharp over two efficient innings, permitting a single with no walks and two strikeouts.

"I like the command and my offspeed pitches," said Pineda, who threw 17 of 25 pitches for strikes. "My changeup and my slider are very good today. I'm excited because the command is there and everything is good."

Eovaldi relieved and struck out five over his three innings, permitting three hits without a walk. He has been working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on elevating pitches to improve his strikeout rate.

"I felt like I did pretty good," Eovaldi said. "I ran into some trouble in the second inning, but I was able to get out of a jam. I felt good for the most part. It felt like I was rushing a little bit on some of my offspeed pitches, but other than that, I felt pretty good."

Rodriguez had two singles, including a soft second-inning liner to left field that drove home Brian McCann with the first run of the game. Serving as the designated hitter for the third time in four spring games, Rodriguez flew out in his third at-bat and is 4-for-9 with two walks.

"I'm a run producer, so I was just trying to get the run in," Rodriguez said. "It doesn't have to be pretty, just get it in."

Didi Gregorius added a run-scoring groundout to account for the production against Tampa Bay right-hander Nathan Karns, who allowed two runs (one earned) and two hits in three innings, with a walk and a strikeout.

"He looked good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think he had some issues gripping the ball. He kept wiping his hand like it was slipping out of his hand. The first inning he looked really good, then he tried to work on some other pitches. For the most part, I thought he looked good."

Rays plate first run on an error

Karns said that he used the outing as an opportunity to fine-tune his changeup.

"It was awesome to see a majority of their starters out there," Karns said. "I liked that I was able to get all three innings in."

Greg Bird and Slade Heathcott added RBIs in the seventh for the Yankees. Desmond Jennings went 2-for-2 for the Rays. Eugenio Velez and Jake Elmore had RBI singles in a three-run eighth for Tampa Bay.

Up next: Right-hander Burch Smith, acquired from the Padres as part of the Wil Myers trade last December, will start against the Pirates split squad Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park. Fans can listen to that game live on Gameday Audio. Right-hander Matt Andriese will start for the other Rays' split squad against the Red Sox at Jet Blue Park. Both games are scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.