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Alvarez shows signs of life at plate in Bucs' loss

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Melky Mesa smoked a grand slam and Kevin Youkilis added three RBIs on Sunday as the Yankees downed the Pirates, 11-9, in Grapefruit League play.

A McKechnie Field-record crowd of 8,541 saw Ivan Nova (1-0) scatter six hits over five innings for the Yankees (9-14).

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Youkillis drilled his third spring homer with a man on in the first, and doubled home a run in the second. Both blows came off Pirates starter Phil Irwin (0-1).

Irwin walked the first two men he faced in the third. Mike Zagurski relieved him with one out and also walked Dan Johnson to load the green-colored bases for Mesa, who unloaded them with a shot into the left-center bleachers.

The Pirates (9-13) broke through in the fourth on RBI doubles by Pedro Alvarez and Gaby Sanchez, with Travis Snider adding a sacrifice fly later in the inning to make it 8-3.

Alvarez went 2-for-2, with two doubles and a walk to raise his spring average to .172.

Clint Barmes added a solo homer, his second, in the fifth.

Up next: James McDonald hopes for a carryover from his last start -- he retired 14 of the last 17 Blue Jays he faced on Wednesday -- when he faces the Red Sox at McKechnie Field on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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