TAMPA, Fla. -- CC Sabathia appears to have locked up the job as the Yankees' fifth starter, hurling four solid innings in a 5-4, rain-shortened victory (five innings) over the Pirates on Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Sabathia has been competing with Ivan Nova for the team's final rotation slot, and manager Joe Girardi said that Sabathia saved his best performance for the end of camp. Working in steady rain, the left-hander limited the Bucs to two runs on three hits, walking two and striking out two.
"I felt pretty good. I'm excited," Sabathia said. "I think all the work in the offseason paid off and allowed me to get my stuff going earlier this year."
Sabathia threw 41 of his 70 pitches for strikes and, although the Yankees have not made an official announcement, he believes he will be in the rotation.
"He's probably where I thought he'd be at this point," Girardi said. "I knew it would take him a while to get it going. CC has never been a strong Spring Training guy. Never has. We've seen him get hit in years he's won 18, 20 games. It just takes him time."
Jose Osuna got the offense started for the Pirates with a two-run single in the fourth inning. Jacob Stallings added a solo homer, and Starling Marte contributed an RBI single.
New York's Carlos Beltran hit his first homer of the spring, a two-run shot to left field in the second inning that highlighted a three-RBI performance.
Starlin Castro continued his hot spring with a run-scoring double and Mark Teixeira also drove in a run facing Pirates left-hander Steven Brault, who surrendered five runs (four earned) and five hits in three innings.
Brault walked one without a strikeout, throwing 37 of 60 pitches for strikes. He is expected to begin the season with Triple-A Indianapolis.
Up next for the Pirates: The Pirates will wrap up their Grapefruit League home schedule with a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Red Sox at McKechnie Field. Left-hander Jonathon Niese is scheduled to make his final Spring Training start against Boston ace David Price. Left-hander Cory Luebke and right-hander A.J. Schugel, competing for a spot in the bullpen, are also slated to pitch.
Up next for the Yankees: Nova will make his sixth spring start on Wednesday, taking on the Braves in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Nova didn't help his chances of serving as the fifth starter in his previous outing, serving up three homers to the Orioles. Julio Teheran starts for Atlanta, facing a lineup that will include Dustin Ackley, Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks.
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.