Reds 8, Yankees 7

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- Bobby Abreu played outfield for the first time in spring training and hit a three-run homer Thursday during the New York Yankees' 8-7 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

The game was briefly delayed in the bottom of the fifth inning when a swarm of bees crossed the infield, sending Yankees fielders scurrying for foul territory to avoid getting stung.

"I've never seen that before," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "I was actually pretty scared. It was thick."

No one got stung, and the rest of the game was played without insect problems.

Abreu strained a muscle in his right side last month and didn't get into a game until Wednesday, when he was the designated hitter in a 2-0 victory over the Phillies. Abreu went 0-for-3 in his 2007 debut.

He hit a first-pitch fastball from Kyle Lohse over the right-field wall on Thursday, his only hit in three at-bats as the right fielder. Manager Joe Torre plans to keep playing him in the outfield in preparation for opening day.

"I feel a lot better," Abreu said. "I made pretty good contact on that. Right now, I'm just more worried about the reaction on balls inside."

The Yankees got an up-and-down outing from Carl Pavano, who gave up eight hits and two walks in only 4 1-3 innings. A pair of double-play grounders limited the damage to two runs.

"Definitely an improvement from my last start," said Pavano, who needed 48 pitches to get through three innings that time. "I think the first inning, I kept the ball on the ground for the most part."

Pavano also has been limited. His left instep was bruised by a line drive during batting practice early in spring training, and he missed one start to be with his girlfriend, who had a medical condition.

Rodriguez and Josh Phelps also hit solo homers for the Yankees, who led 7-3 before the minor leaguers got into the game. Edwin Encarnacion won it for the Reds with a tiebreaking double in the ninth off T.J. Beam.

Lohse, the Reds' No. 4 starter, has been struggling to get his fastball to go where he wants. He gave up six runs in five innings, throwing 92 pitches.

"You just see what you need to work on," Lohse said. "The curveball was really good. The change-up was good. The slider -- I didn't throw it a whole lot, but it was there when I needed it. I've just got to work on that fastball and the location, keeping it down."

Phelps led off the seventh inning with a homer off Dustin Hermanson, the first run that the reliever has given up in four appearances. Hermanson is a candidate for the closer's job.

Game notes
Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte said his back is still bothering him, so he hasn't resumed throwing. "I feel a lot better," Pettitte said. "I just want to take care of it and get it right." Pettitte developed back spasms while working out on Monday, forcing him to miss a start. Torre thinks he'll be ready for the season if he can make one more start. "I'd say one more start (is enough)," Torre said. "Again, we don't think that's going to be a problem." ... RHP Chien-Ming Wang gave up five hits and three runs in six innings of a Triple-A game. ... The crowd of 7,587 was the sixth-largest during the Reds' 10 years in Sarasota. ... Reds 1B Javier Valentin left the game after the fourth inning because he strained his left hamstring while running the bases.