Yanks hits in short supply, while bad frame sinks Phelps

Yanks hits in short supply, while bad frame sinks Phelps

TAMPA, Fla. -- Drew Butera's bases-clearing double highlighted a five-run fourth inning off David Phelps as the Twins defeated the Yankees, 5-1, on Thursday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Phelps had enjoyed a breezy spring in competition for a rotation slot until the rocky inning, in which Butera blasted a deep drive over Ichiro Suzuki's head in left field to score Miguel Sano, Darin Mastroianni and Joe Benson.

"I'm really not worried about the competition -- if it even is a competition," Phelps said. "I'm just worried about going out and doing my job. I'll let that take care of itself."

Aaron Hicks connected for a sacrifice fly and Chris Parmelee added a run-scoring single off reliever Juan Cedeno in the inning.

Phelps surrendered six hits in 3 2/3 innings, tossing 46 of 81 pitches for strikes as he walked three and struck out six. Phelps entered the game having allowed five earned runs in 19 innings over his first five starts of the spring.

"I thought he struggled with his command today," manager Joe Girardi said of Phelps. "He got in some longer counts. I just didn't think he was as sharp with his command tonight."

Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks turned in a solid outing as he battles for a rotation spot, limiting the Yankees to an unearned run and one hit over four innings. Hendriks walked two and struck out two in his sixth start of the spring.

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano returned to the lineup after winning honors as the World Baseball Classic MVP with the Dominican Republic squad, going 1-for-2 with a fourth-inning single.

New York closer Mariano Rivera pitched around a leadoff single to turn in a scoreless fifth inning, striking out three in a 20-pitch outing.

Up next: Cano will look to continue anchoring the Yankees' lineup on Friday as the club takes the bus to Fort Myers, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Ivan Nova will be on the mound for New York, looking to continue fine-tuning the adjustments he has made to his delivery in hopes of winning a rotation spot. The Twins will give the ball to Vance Worley, their possible Opening Day starter.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.