Astros top Yanks in spring training

TAMPA, FL The Yankees closer needed just eight pitches to throw a perfect fourth inning in New York's 9-5 loss to the Houston Astros on Friday.

"Someone made the comment, 'See you next week, Mo,'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He understands his craft as well as any pitcher I've ever been with, on what he needs to do to get ready. He's so good at what he does."

Rivera struck out two, throwing all but one pitch for a strike.

"I'm happy with everything," Rivera said.

Rivera, third all-time with 443 saves, has taken a slower approach during spring training the past few years. The right-hander will likely pitch nine or 10 innings before the team breaks camp.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, expected to be limited to DH duties until Monday because of a sore right shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double.

"I certainly wouldn't miss a game during the regular season, or have to DH," Rodriguez said. "But I think right now, it's just being smart."

Rodriguez said he felt discomfort Thursday and the shoulder bothers him when he throws.

New York catcher Jorge Posada was scratched from the starting lineup due to a sore right side muscle. He replaced Rodriguez as the DH in the fifth, and was hitless in three at-bats.

Posada could resume catching on Monday.

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte allowed two runs and three hits over 2 2/3 innings in his second start. The two runs came on an opposite-field homer to right by Victor Diaz in the second.

"One thing, just from the get-go, in my bullpen and from my first pitch, I just felt good mechanically and everything," Pettitte said. "I'm happy with the way I'm progressing. I feel real good about my location today."

Houston's Shawn Chacon gave up two runs and four hits in three innings. Chris Sampson also went three innings, allowing three runs and five hits.

Lance Niekro hit a two-run single for Houston. David Newhan had two RBIs, including a run-scoring triple.

Astros manager Cecil Cooper plans to make some cuts early next week.

"I've actually been losing a little sleep the last few days just thinking about it," Cooper said. "That's not something you want to do, you hate to do it, but that's part of the job."

Notes: Cooper said INF Ty Wigginton (right quadriceps) should play Saturday. ... Yankees LF-DH Hideki Matsui (neck stiffness and knee) said he will probably play for the first time this year Monday or Tuesday. ... Niekro started at first after leaving Wednesday's game when he fouled a ball off his left foot. ... Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis attended the game. ... Yankees SS Derek Jeter will attend the renaming ceremony for "The Derek Jeter Center at Phoenix House" on Monday in Tampa. Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation is donating $500,000 to enhance existing programs provided by Phoenix House, which provides services that strengthen young people's efforts to overcome addiction.

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