Burnett throws 4 perfect innings

March 14, 2009 5:53:58 PM PDT
A.J. Burnett made it look easy. Burnett threw four perfect innings in the New York Yankees' 3-1 split-squad win over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

"I asked him if he wanted to go another three innings," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said with a smile. "He was sharp. The ball comes out of his hand so free and easy."

Burnett struck out three during his 40-pitch outing. He has allowed one hit over six shutout innings in two spring training starts.

"I felt pretty good out there," Burnett said.

Burnett went 18-10 with Toronto last year. The Yankees signed him to an $82.5 million, five-year free-agent contract during the offseason.

Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez allowed one run and two hits over two innings in his first game since Feb. 27. The left-hander had been out with a strained muscle in his left side.

"I feel excellent," Rodriguez said. "I'm happy about that."

Astros reliever Alberto Arias left in the fourth with a bruised right hand after being hit by Hideki Matsui's liner. He had the hand wrapped in the clubhouse afterward, and will undergo X-rays.

Johnny Damon hit a solo homer for the Yankees.

JR Towles went deep for the Astros, and Chris Sampson gave up one hit over one inning in his first appearance since right elbow surgery on Oct. 1.

Yankees right-hander Jason Johnson yielded two hits during a scoreless ninth in his first outing since undergoing treatment for a small cancerous tumor behind his right eye.

"I was glad I got the first one out of the way," Johnson said.

"It feels good. Curveballs and sliders are down the middle right now, but I'm going to get better. I was just glad to get into a competitive game."

Johnson got a break when a grounder by John Gall was turned into a double play after hitting the back of the pitcher's left foot.

"Did you like that? That was planned," Johnson joked.

New York catcher Jorge Posada, limited to designated hitter duties due to right shoulder surgery, is scheduled to play behind the plate for the first time Sunday. He is expected to play three innings.

"We need Jorgie," Girardi said. "I'm anxious to see it. It's important for our club."

Notes: The Yankees announced that fans can register online for the opportunity to buy tickets for individual games at the new Yankee Stadium before they're scheduled to go on sale to the general public on March 24. The fans selected in a random drawing will receive a password that will allow them to buy tickets online on March 23. Tickets for the exhibition games against the Chicago Cubs on April 3-4 are scheduled to go on sale on March 23. ... Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (right shoulder surgery) threw 40 pitches during his second batting practice session and is set to make his first spring appearance Tuesday. ... Astros CF Jason Michaels (strained left hamstring) and LF Reggie Abercrombie (left toe) made their first starts since being sidelined by injuries. Both came off the bench on Friday. ... New York RHP Edwar Ramirez (right shoulder bursitis) gave up one hit in a scoreless inning. ... Rodriguez threw 25 of 33 pitches for strikes. He struck out one. ... A New York split squad beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-10 in Bradenton.

... The Yankees sent LHP Michael Dunn, C Austin Romine and OF Colin Curtis to their minor league camp.