published Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Garcia sharp against Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon and Sergio Mitre — they’re all making life very difficult on New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. In a good way.

Garcia pitched three scoreless innings to help the Yankees beat the Braves 5-4 in front of a packed house at Disney World’s Champion Stadium on Tuesday.

Garcia struck out two while extending his spring scoreless streak to five innings over two starts.

“I feel pretty good, man,” he said. “So far, so good. That’s the way I have to pitch if I want to win the spot. Throw strikes. Be aggressive. Made the pitches when I need it.”

Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens gave up six hits and four runs in four innings in his third spring start. The Yankees got to him for three runs in the third, including Curtis Granderson’s two-run triple.

Jurrjens said he feels he’s progressing and finding his velocity on his fastball and slider after not being able to reach 90 mph with either in his previous outings.

“For me it’s a relief,” Jurrjens said. “[The velocity] is still there and I can reach back when I want to. ... I feel like I’m making progress.”

Eric Hinske drove in two runs for Atlanta, and Martin Prado scored twice.

Granderson had two hits and two RBIs and Nick Swisher went 2-for-2 for the Yankees. Ramiro Pena also had two hits and drove in a run.

Garcia, Nova, Colon and Mitre are competing for two rotation openings behind CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett. Mitre pitched three scoreless innings Monday night, and the four competitors for the final slots have allowed a run in 20 innings this spring.

“There’s no separation,” Girardi said. “They’re going about their business the right way.”

Girardi said the rotation won’t be finalized until near the end of spring training. Garcia, the only one of the four who was a full-time major league starter in 2010, has said he would only blame himself if he didn’t win one of the jobs.

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