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Pence, Lee carry Astros to 8-6 win over Yankees

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Hunter Pence continues to pick up the slack for an injured Lance Berkman this spring in the Houston Astros' lineup.

Pence smacked two doubles, scored two runs and drove in three more as the Astros hurt New York starter Alfredo Aceves chances of making the rotation in an 8-6 win over the Yankees Saturday.

Pence is now hitting .467 and leads the team with 14 RBI. Carlos Lee added two hits and two RBI and Cory Sullivan homered for the second straight game.

Alex Rodriguez stroked a pair of doubles and knocked in two runs for the Yankees. Robinson Cano hit his first home run of the spring, Brett Gardner added a pair of hits, Nick Johnson walked twice and scored and Mark Teixeira was 1 for 2 with a walk.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi says A-Rod's swing is coming around.

"He's starting to swing the bat," Girardi said. "He'll play again tomorrow. Physically he feels good."

Astros starter Brett Myers, who faced the Yankees for the first time since Game 3 of the World Series, surrendered four runs on eight hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out six for his second straight start and ran his pitch count up to 90, saying afterward that he felt good.

Aceves hit a snag in his bid to win the Yankees' fifth spot in the starting rotation. The right-hander allowed five runs on five hits over 4 1-3 innings. He struck out two, walked one and threw 74 pitches.

He faced the minimum through three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth when he hit Jason Bourgeois, allowed an RBI double to Pence and a run-scoring single to Carlos Lee. In the fifth he allowed a double to Jeff Keppinger, walked Humberto Quintero and then gave up a single to Bourgeois. Girardi pulled him in favor of Mark Melancon who promptly surrendered a two-run double to Pence and another RBI single to Lee.

"He wasn't as sharp as he's been," Girardi said of Aceves. "He managed to get outs today. You're not always going to have your A stuff."

Aceves had allowed one run in 10 innings before Saturday.

Girardi said Aceves isn't out of the Yankees plans if he doesn't win the rotation spot. Last season, he won a major league-leading 10 games out of the bullpen and posted a 3.54 ERA.

"I would use him anywhere if he wasn't the fifth starter," Girardi said. "He is one of the guys that can give you distance. He knows how to change speeds. He knows how to change eye level. He was a big part of our success last year. He held teams down and gave us opportunities to come back. We've always had a lot of confidence in him."

Astros starting shortstop Tommy Manzella strained his right quadriceps while trying to beat out a throw in the third and manager Brad Mills said it could be at least a week until he's back on the field.