Marshall strong, but Yanks' comeback falls shy

Marshall strong, but Yanks' comeback falls shy

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Brandon Laird's grand slam to right-center field in the sixth inning keyed a six-run outburst and propelled the Astros to a 7-6 win over the split-squad Yankees on Thursday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.

The Astros were leading, 1-0, on the strength of a Rick Ankiel fifth-inning homer when the Yankees took advantage of a throwing error on a potential double-play ball by pitcher Ross Seaton to score five runs in the sixth and take a 5-1 lead. But in its half of the sixth, Houston sent 11 batters to the plate to retake the lead.

Astros starter Lucas Harrell breezed through a Yankees lineup that was without any of its marquee players. He allowed three singles in three scoreless innings and benefitted from double plays in the first and second innings, and Brad Peacock followed with two scoreless innings for Houston.

"I tried to work [throwing his sinker] a lot today, and I think the results kind of showed with the ground balls," Harrell said. "When the defense is playing good and throwing strikes, it's always a good combo."

Yankees starter Brett Marshall worked three innings and didn't allow a run while giving up one hit and striking out three. Ankiel ripped a leadoff homer to straightaway center field in the fifth, continuing his hot spring, to put the Astros ahead, 1-0.

New York added a run in the eighth on Adonis Garcia's RBI single to plate Tyler Austin, who tripled with one out.

Up next for the Yankees: Coming off a career-high 16 wins, Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball for his first start of the spring on Friday as the Yankees host the Phillies for a 1:05 p.m. ET start at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Roy Halladay will be on the mound for Philadelphia, and the game will be broadcast on MLB.TV.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.