PITTSBURGH (AP) — Josh Bell hit his second home run in as many games and the Pittsburgh Pirates got to CC Sabathia early for a 6-3 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.
Jordy Mercer led off with a solo shot against Sabathia (2-1) in the first and Bell followed an inning later with a two-run homer to the left field bleachers to give Pittsburgh a four-run cushion.
Juan Nicasio (1-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief after Tyler Glasnow faltered with two outs in the fifth. Tony Watson got out of a two-on, two-outs jam in the ninth for his fifth save as the Pirates ended a three-game losing streak.
Jacoby Ellsbury had three of New York’s 10 hits, but the Yankees couldn’t overcome Sabathia’s first shaky outing this season and an error on a dropped popup by second baseman Starlin Castro that led to a pair of unearned runs. Sabathia gave up three earned runs in his first starts, but the Pirates put up four runs against him their first time through the order.
The Yankees started their second trip of the season with a rare visit to Pittsburgh, eager to build off an 8-1 homestand fueled by pitching and power.
Neither showed up against the Pirates, who find themselves at an early crossroads, three days after the start of All-Star centerfielder Starling Marte’s 80-game drug suspension. Pittsburgh managed just three runs while getting swept in St. Louis at the start of the week but quickly jumped on Sabathia, making his record 59th interleague start.
Mercer took the second pitch he saw from Sabathia — an 86 mph slider — and sent it into the grass just beyond the centerfield wall. David Freese added a run-scoring single and and Bell sent an 87 mph fastball into the stands in the second. Sabathia, his velocity down from earlier this month, recovered to get through five innings, giving up four runs and seven hits.
Glasnow came within one out of qualifying for his first win this season but was removed after second baseman Josh Harrison’s error allowed New York to close to 4-3. Glasnow, who has battled control issues, needed 102 pitches to get 14 outs
Nicasio came on to strike out Austin Romine, and the Yankees would get no closer. After Castro dropped Andrew McCutchen’s popup in short right field for a run-scoring error, Freese followed two batters later with a second RBI single.
Yankees: C Gary Sanchez will play catch from 90 feet on Saturday as he works his way back from a strained right triceps that’s kept him out since April 8. Manager Joe Girardi said Sanchez needs to be able to throw 120 feet comfortably before thinking about a rehab assignment. … SS Didi Gregorious went 2 for 3 and played six innings in a rehab start for Class A Tampa. Gregorious is out with a strained right (throwing) shoulder.
PAYING TRIBUTE: The Pirates honored former Steelers president and chairman Dan Rooney — who died last week at age 84 — with a pregame moment of silence. The team also painted the Steelers logo on the pitcher’s mound and put an epitaph on the dirt behind home plate. Rooney grew up and lived in Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood, which is also home to PNC Park.
Yankees: Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.44) looks for his third straight win on Saturday. Pineda has 23 strikeouts against just one walk this season.
Pirates: Jameson Taillon (1-0, 0.90) has been the bright spot on Pittsburgh’s young starting staff. Taillon held the Cubs to one unearned run in seven innings in his last start.