Nationals vs. Yankees: Nationals lose 4-2 in exhibition game

Washington fell to the Yankees 4-2.

(AP) - The boys of summer are back in town.

Andy Pettitte ducked to avoid a twirling piece of broken bat during his six-inning stint, Kevin Youkilis hit his sixth homer of spring training and the New York Yankees wrapped up their major league exhibition schedule by beating the Washington Nationals 4-2 Friday.

Pettitte put his left hand on his cap as he kneeled to avoid the jagged bat when Wilson Ramos grounded out in the third inning. The lefty wasn't shaken, and allowed two runs - one earned - and five hits. He struck out six and didn't walk a batter while throwing 81 pitches, 57 for strikes.

Washington's unearned run came in the fourth after third baseman Youkilis' throwing error.

New York scored four runs in the top of that inning off Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann.

The highlights were Youkilis' leadoff drive into the visiting bullpen and Eduardo Nunez's two-run single. Zimmermann lasted 3 1-3 innings, allowing four runs and seven hits.

A crowd of 38,161 welcomed the reigning NL East champion Nationals back from their Grapefruit League stint at Viera, Fla.

It was Washington's first game at Nationals Park since the club blew a ninth-inning lead in the division series finale against St. Louis. The pitcher who let Game 5 get away, Drew Storen, was greeted with applause and cheers when he came on for the ninth Friday.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera then finished the game with a 1-2-3 ninth. A few hours earlier, before the first pitch, the 43-year-old Rivera was honored by the Nationals.

The career saves leader announced three weeks ago that he will retire after this season. He was presented Friday with a signed No. 42 - his number - Nationals jersey by Washington reliever Rafael Soriano, who took over as New York's closer last year when Rivera got injured.

The Nationals are done with exhibition games with a 14-18-2 record and get to prepare for their opener on Monday, at home against the Miami Marlins. Stephen Strasburg will start for Washington.

The Yankees, 14-18-1 during a spring training that included injuries to sluggers Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, will face Army at West Point on Saturday, then open up at home against the Boston Red Sox on Monday.

Could there be a new rivalry between the Yankees and the Nationals?

“It’s way better than the rivalry between us and Baltimore,” says David Olive, a Nats fan.

“Yankees fans are obnoxious,” says Andrew Orr. “D.C. fans are confident.”

“Oh come on! Everything about D.C. is bad! Just look at the traffic!” says Ann Buckovic, a Yankees fan.

The Meltzer family is split with both sons clad in both teams’ colors.

“We love both, which is why we’re here today, but I’d rather have to say first and foremost we’re Nats fans now,” says Jason Meltzer.

But for one father and son duo, the trash taking started on day one.

“I’ve always hated the Yankees,” says Steven Dudley.

“I was a Yankees fan since I was a little kid. I just didn’t raise him right,” says Dave Dudley.

The exhibition game is the only game scheduled between the Nats and the Yankees all year, unless the two teams meet in the World Series.

“We have Bryce Harper, Jason Werth, Espinosa. We have better players than the Yankees will ever dream of! And we pay them less,” says Amanda O’Brien.

Leave it to a D.C. fan to bring a budget battle to a ballpark.

For the Washington Nationals 2013 schedule, click here.