Nova hit hard again as Yankees lose to Mets 7-6

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Maybe the Yankees' starting pitching isn't so deep, after all.

Ivan Nova was hit hard again Tuesday in his final exhibition start, a 7-6 loss to the Mets in the first spring training game between the rivals since 1996.

Struggling with his fastball location, Nova gave up five runs, eight hits and two walks in 2 2-3 innings. His ERA rose to 8.06.

"Today was one of the worst days of my life," Nova said. "I wasn't pitching right. I felt good today, but I couldn't throw my fastball for strikes and I couldn't locate my pitches, and I don't feel good about that."

The Yankees entered spring training with six pitchers for five slots, with Nova, Michael Pineda , Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia competing for three jobs behind CC Sabathia and Hideki Kuroda. Then Andy Pettitte ended his retirement, giving them seven people for five jobs.

Since Pettitte's surprise announcement on March 16, Pineda has gone on the disabled list because of inflammation of a shoulder tendon. Nova has not resembled the pitcher who went 16-4 last season and became New York's No. 2 starter by October.

"Sometimes you feel right, and you're not," Nova said. "It's spring training for me right now, so I just have to look forward to the season."

Nova hit Ruben Tejada and Andres Torres with pitches while facing the Mets' projected starting lineup plus designated hitter Scott Hairston . Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he has not seen any dropoff in Nova's fastball, which reached 93 mph.

"At times he's thrown as hard as I've seen him," Girardi said. "He's frustrated with the way he's throwing the ball but he won a lot of games for us last year. He has that in his hip pocket, and he knows what he has to do."

Girardi said the poor outing might have been a result of Nova having trouble using his legs on a 91-degree day.

"You try not to get too caught up in spring training," Girardi said. "You want to know how the ball is coming out of the guy's hand. And up until today, I thought it was coming out really pretty good."

Ike Davis hit a tiebreaking home run off Mark Montgomery in the ninth inning.

Mets starter Mike Pelfrey allowed one run and two hits in four innings with no walks and five strikeouts, lowering his ERA from 8.59 to 7.62. He gave up Nick Swisher 's fourth-inning homer.

"I had a pretty good idea of where the ball was going to go, and when you get that I think you are ready to go, so I feel good," Pelfrey said. "I'm excited to get out of here and get into the season."

After Pelfrey gave up 21 runs through 15 2-3 innings over his first four starts, manager Terry Collins told the pitcher he needed to prove he belonged. Pelfrey responded by allowing two runs over his last two starts.

"It made me think I better get it going," Pelfrey said. "Obviously, I still want to be here and I want to pitch and I want to be successful. I'm not a guy that's ever had great spring trainings, and when he says that, it makes you want to get it going quicker so I tried to amp it up a little faster after the Cardinals' game, and the last two I felt like I was getting it, so I feel like I'm ready."

Torres, sidelined since March 20 because of a strained left calf, started in center, went 1 for 1 and scored twice. Reliever Tim Byrdak , coming back from surgery March 13 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, faced two batters and retired both.

"There were smiles on all the coaches faces that we finally ran our team out there today," Collins said. "We finally got things in place today."

NOTES: A day after having an MRI of his left knee, which was drained last weekend, Mets closer Frank Francisco threw a bullpen session and said he is ready for opening day. Team doctors wanted to test him outside of a game. ... Yankees switch-pitcher Pat Venditte got two outs. ... The Yankees used only Swisher and Brett Gardner from their regulars. ... The crowd of 7,644 set a record for the Mets' current spring training ballpark. The teams play again Wednesday in Tampa.

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