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May 18, 2014

Yankees swat five home runs to dunk Pirates

NEW YORK — Edinson Volquez threw plenty of strikes. Too many of them wound up in the seats.

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer, Zoilo Almonte connected in his first start this season and the New York Yankees went deep five times for a 7-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano also homered off a struggling Volquez to back five scoreless innings from David Phelps (1-0). Brian McCann added a two-run drive in the eighth against reliever Vin Mazzaro as New York won for the second time in eight home games.

“They are great hitters and I made a lot of mistakes,” Volquez said. “You cannot make a lot of mistakes in this ballpark.”

Starling Marte homered and had three hits in his return to the starting lineup for the Pirates, winless in the Bronx since Harvey Haddix pitched them to a 5-2 victory in Game 5 of the 1960 World Series.

Volquez (1-4) gave up six hits – four homers – and no walks in 6 1/3 innings, dropping to 0-4 with a 6.91 ERA in his last five starts. He threw 55 of 81 pitches for strikes.

“It’s again a case where the mistakes he made he paid for – ended up on the other side of the fence. But he also threw some very clean sequences,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Coming off consecutive road shutouts against the crosstown rival Mets, the Yankees took their third straight following a four-game slide.

It was the second time since 2011 that five Yankees players homered in one game.

“Our team is built for this park,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Teixeira connected on a 1-2 pitch following Derek Jeter’s single in the first for his eighth home run in his last 17 games. It was the 350th of his career, tying Chili Davis for sixth place among switch-hitters.

Almonte sent Volquez’s first pitch of the third to right-center for his second major league homer. Called up from the minors Tuesday, Almonte was a late addition to the lineup when center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched with flu-like symptoms.

Gardner homered leading off the sixth and Soriano did the same in the seventh.

After a rainout Friday night, 47,353 fans turned out on a beautiful afternoon for the Pirates’ first visit to the current Yankee Stadium.

They went 0-6 in interleague games at the old place, swept in a June 2005 series and again two years later.

Phelps pitched out of early trouble to earn his first win as a starter since July 4, 2013, at Minnesota. After beginning the season in the bullpen, the right-hander was making his third start since replacing injured Michael Pineda in the rotation.

“He was effectively wild,” Jordy Mercer said. “He’d have runners on base and then he’d come back and throw it over the corner when he needed to, or get a strikeout to get the out to end an inning.”

Phelps got some help from the overaggressive Pirates, who ran into three outs on the bases.

Marte was caught stealing after a leadoff single in the fourth, and Gaby Sanchez was cut down at the plate on a perfect throw from Soriano in right to end the inning.

Tony Sanchez was thrown out by Gardner in center trying to stretch a leadoff single off the wall in the seventh.

Pittsburgh nearly made another out on the bases in the fifth when Tony Sanchez appeared to get picked off second, but the call was overturned on replay. With two runners on, Phelps retired Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez in succession.

“We were pushing guys out there,” Hurdle said. “Those are the chances you want to take when you’re not getting those big hits with runners in scoring position, try to push yourself across the plate or get yourself in scoring position.”

Alvarez, who grew up a few miles from Yankee Stadium, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first game against the Yankees.

He left about a dozen tickets for family and friends and was expecting his father to be in the crowd.

Notes: Marte (lower back tightness) made his first start in a week. ... 1B Ike Davis, traded by the Mets last month, went 0 for 3 with a walk and three strikeouts in his return to New York. ... Injured closer Jason Grilli (left oblique) threw 20 pitches in a simulated game. ... C Russell Martin (strained left hamstring) is “probably on the back end” of his rehab program, Hurdle said. Martin has been on the DL since April 26. ... RHP Stolmy Pimentel (shoulder inflammation) threw a 28-pitch bullpen and will throw another one Monday before the team talks about prepping him for a rehab assignment, Hurdle said. ... RHP Hiroki Kuroda chose to start the opener today against Pirates RHP Charlie Morton. LHP Vidal Nuno will pitch the second game against RHP Gerrit Cole, who spurned the Yankees to attend UCLA after they drafted him out of high school.

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