Warren solid in latest bid for rotation spot

Right-hander strikes out five over 3 2/3 innings vs. Rays

Warren solid in latest bid for rotation spot

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays had a "bullpen day" on Thursday as they did not use a starting pitcher, rather a stream of relievers were backed by home runs from Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings in a 6-5 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park.

"You had to be prepared a little earlier," said Grant Balfour, who pitched a scoreless third. "Guys are going six, seven innings now. Today was one of those days where we just threw all the relievers out there."

Adam Warren struck out five and allowed one run over 3 2/3 innings as he closes in on earning the fifth starter role for the Yankees.

Jordan Norberto started for the Rays and walked Rob Refsnyder with one out in the second. Slade Heathcott followed with an RBI double to center that put the Yankees up 1-0.

Longoria answered in the Rays' half of the inning with a home run to left field off Warren to tie the game at 1.

Ramon Flores hit a two-run double in the fourth off Kevin Jepsen to score John Ryan Murphy and Heathcott for a 3-1 lead.

Flores' two-run double

The Rays tied the game at 3 in the fifth when Brandon Guyer singled home one and Asdrubal Cabrera doubled home another.

Guyer's RBI single in the 5th

Desmond Jennings started the Rays sixth with a solo home run off Chris Martin. The homer was his first of the spring. Kevin Kiermaier also scored via a wild pitch to push the lead to 5-4.

In the seventh, Didi Gregorius doubled home a run for the Yankees, but the Rays scored in the bottom half of the inning on Jake Elmore's sacrifice fly to make it 6-4 Rays.

Gregorius' RBI double in the 7th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Slade in the shade: After being removed from the Yankees' 40-man roster this past winter, Heathcott has quietly enjoyed a good Spring Training. The Yanks' No. 1 pick in 2009, he showed some of his reclaimed form in the second inning, splitting the outfielders up the gap in left-center field with a run-scoring double that drove home Refsnyder from first base.

Heathcott's RBI double

Longoria grooving: Longoria blasted his second home run of the spring when he connected on a 1-1 pitch from Warren. The clout was a good sign for the Rays, who need their best offensive player to get on track this season. Longoria is the longest-tenured current member of the Rays. He ranks as the franchise's leader with 184 career home runs, 635 RBIs, .494 slugging percentage and 48 sacrifice flies.

QUOTABLE

Chris Archer downplayed being named the Rays Opening Day starter by noting that he had made an Opening Day start for Triple-A Durham in 2013:

"Maybe that's why I wouldn't treat it differently. Because it's just a baseball game. it's the first one of the year, but the first one's no more or less important than the last one."

"That's how we envisioned him when he first got here, that he would be a starter in our rotation. It's not unusual for guys to get their feet wet in the bullpen to start. I think he's grown up a lot the last couple of years, and he has an opportunity to start this year." -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi on Warren, the Yanks' likely No. 5 starter

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Alex Colome threw 25 pitches on Wednesday that the right-hander called, "good ones." Colome has experienced a nightmare spring. First, he was delayed by visa problems. Then, once he arrived, he came down with pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. He now said he's 85 percent, throwing all of his pitches, and ready for whatever the Rays have planned for him. After being asked when he might be ready to join the Rays, Colome smiled and noted that decision is all up to pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Ronald Belasario, who arrived at camp with a fractured shoulder compliments of a swimming pool accident, threw his first bullpen of the spring and looked impressive according to Cash. "He won't be ready for Opening Day," Cash said. "[But] he'll help us this year for sure."

WHAT'S NEXT

Rays: Everett Teaford will start when the Rays travel to Sarasota Thursday afternoon to play the Orioles in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. The left-hander remains in the hunt to land a spot in the Rays starting rotation. Mike Montgomery is also expected to see action. He too is a contender for a rotation spot.

Yankees: Michael Pineda will make his fourth start of the spring as the Yankees bring a star-studded travel roster across the Courtney Campbell Causeway for a 1:05 p.m. ET start against the Phillies on MLB.TV. Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Headley, Carlos Beltran and Brett Gardner will all be in the lineup that faces Philadelphia's Aaron Nola.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.