- Associated Press - Monday, March 26, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) - Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius homered and Sonny Gray had another strong outing for the New York Yankees, who closed out spring training with a 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

Gregorius hit his fifth home run of the spring in the first inning off Brandon McCarthy, a two-out drive that just cleared the right-field wall.

There was no doubt about Stanton’s third homer since joining the Yankees in one of the biggest deals of the offseason. He got a hanging curveball on an 0-2 pitch from McCarthy in the third, sending it into the second deck in left field for another two-run shot.

With temperatures dipping into the 40s and late-inning showers, there were only a few hundred people still around - pretty much all Yankees fans - by the end of the game at SunTrust Park.

Gray went five innings, permitting one run and three hits with seven strikeouts. He didn’t walk anyone.

Atlanta’s lone run came in the fourth. Ozzie Albies led off with a double and moved around to score on a pair of groundouts. Neil Walker, filling in at first base for injured Greg Bird, scooped up three straight one-hop throws that inning to help Gray escape further trouble.

Gray, acquired last summer from Oakland, finished the spring with a 1.98 ERA in four appearances covering 13 2/3 innings.

“It’s probably by far the best spring I’ve had,” Gray said. “And it’s probably the best I feel coming out of a spring. I feel ready for the season, and I think a lot of guys in here are excited to get started.”

McCarthy went three innings in his final tuneup for the season, giving up four runs, three walks and those two homers. It was the worst showing in four appearances for the newest member of the Braves rotation, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers during the offseason.

“This was just a day to move past,” McCarthy said.

Asked what upset him the most, he deadpanned: “All the pitches I threw, the way I felt, the mechanics, how far some of the balls flew. Pretty much all the things that can upset you in a start were present tonight.”

Ryan Flaherty made his Atlanta debut at third base after his $750,000, one-year contract was finalized before the game. He went hitless in two at-bats.

The Braves further bolstered their bench with the signing of outfielder Peter Bourjos, cut last week by the Cubs.

TRAINER’S ROOM

The Yankees announced before the game that Bird will miss six to eight weeks recovering from surgery on his right ankle. The operation will be performed Tuesday in New York to remove a small broken spur on the outside of his ankle. Walker and Tyler Austin are expected to share duties at first base while Bird is out, with Walker also getting time at second.

UP NEXT

Yankees: Open the season Thursday in Toronto against the AL East rival Blue Jays.

Braves: Host one more exhibition game Tuesday against a team of their top minor league players, including outfielder Ronald Acuna, before opening two days later at home against the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

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For more AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball


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