Vazquez shuts down Nats to lead Yankees to 3-1 win

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Javier Vazquez allowed one run and four hits over six-plus innings and the New York Yankees beat the Washington Nationals 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Vazquez, the Yankees' No. 4 starter, had six strikeouts during a 77-pitch outing. He left after giving up a leadoff single to Christian Guzman — who later scored — in the seventh.

"I got my pitch count almost to 80 and that was one of the main things," Vazquez said. "I'm glad I could be economical with my pitches."

Alex Rodriguez hit an RBI triple in the fourth and added a run-scoring single for the Yankees in the sixth.

Livan Hernandez, bidding for one of the final two spots in the Washington rotation, gave up one run and three hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out three and walked two.

"I pitched good," Hernandez said, "and facing that lineup is not easy."

Hernandez, making his second appearance and first start, said he came to camp in good shape thanks in part to playing racquetball during the offseason at home in Miami.

Washington manager Jim Riggleman was happy with the outing, but stopped short of saying Hernandez has earned a slot in the opening day rotation.

"He's really competed well to earn one of those spots," Riggleman said. "He's doing what he does — throws strikes, mixes it up out there, uses both sides of the plate, keeps hitters off balance, so hopefully he'll continue to do that and show us that he belongs in our rotation."

Nationals right fielder Willy Taveras was thrown out trying to steal second in the third and then was ejected for arguing the call.

New York closer Mariano Rivera gave up one hit and struck out two in a scoreless eighth. He hasn't allowed a run over three innings this spring.

The Yankees are nearing a decision on the fifth starter. Phil Hughes is considered the frontrunner in a five-man field that also includes Joba Chamberlain and Alfredo Aceves.

"For the most part, we have a pretty good idea of where we're going to go," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're just not quite ready to announce it. It's just some things we have to finish."

Girardi did not commit to making the announcement on Thursday, but added "it's got to be pretty soon."

NOTES: Nationals top prospect Stephen Strasburg struck out nine in 4 1-3 shutout innings of an intrasquad minor league game. The 21-year-old allowed one hit and walked three. ... Yankees RF Nick Swisher had a stinger in his right hand after a swing in the sixth. He stayed in the game and later said everything was OK. ... Yankees LHP CC Sabathia, lined up to pitch opening day April 4 at Boston, is scheduled to start in a minor league game on Thursday. ... The Nationals brought back RHP Mike MacDougal, agreeing to terms on a minor league contract with the pitcher who ended last season as their closer. MacDougal was released by the Marlins on Tuesday. ... The Yankees sent RHPs Jonathan Albaladejo and Mark Melancon, INFs Juan Miranda and Kevin Russo, and OF Greg Golson to their minor league camp.