NEW YORK – Hiroki Kuroda dodged some bullets but worked six innings and earned his first win since April 12 as the New York Yankees defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 in the first game of their interleague doubleheader on Sunday.
Kuroda (3-3) allowed three runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out seven. The 39-year-old surrendered a pair of solo home runs, but his teammates gave him a lead after the first inning and he pitched out of a jam in the fourth.
“It’s so big for a pitcher to be able to get out of trouble and pick up a win,” said the right-hander, whose command was erratic and who benefitted from a lot of poor swings on fat pitches by Bucs’ batters.
“There were a lot of times last year when I pitched well and we didn’t win. Regardless of how well or badly you are pitching, you want to win.”
Four Yankees relievers combined for three shutout innings, with closer David Robertson working the last 1⅓ innings for his eighth save.
“To the best of my ability I want to prevent him (Robertson) from having to work more than an inning by going deeper in the game myself and helping out the bullpen,” Kuroda said.
With Yankees ace CC Sabathia on the disabled list, Kuroda’s effort proved a big one, but it has been tough going.
“There have been a lot of games (this season) where my mechanics, my control haven’t been very good compared to those times when I’ve pitched well in the past,” Kuroda said. “Still, last year and the year before, I sometimes pitched poorly and got good results, so I just want to keep at it, pitch as well as I can and try to turn things around.”
Kuroda was asked about his interaction with new Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who is scheduled to go for his seventh win on Tuesday on the road in Chicago against the Cubs.
“He has got so many pitches and good breaking pitches. As a fellow pitcher it is natural for us to talk about different grips and so on,” said Kuroda, who along with Tanaka are the only two Yankees starters in the rotation since the start of the season.
“He (Tanaka) is making an incredible effort for a first-year player. I want the two of us to do whatever it takes to keep the rotation from falling apart.”
The Yankees lost the nightcap of the doubleheader 5-3, in which Ichiro Suzuki, who has been struggling with back trouble, made his first start since May 11 and went 1-for-4.
Tigers 6, Red Sox 2
In Boston, Victor Martinez hit a two-run homer, Torii Hunter added a solo shot and streaking Detroit won its 11th straight road game to complete a three-game sweep. It was the sixth consecutive win and 15th in 18 games for the Tigers, who have the majors’ best record at 27-12.
Ian Kinsler had four hits, and Miguel Cabrera added three and two RBIs as Detroit dominated in the first meeting since losing last season’s AL championship series to the eventual World Series champion Red Sox in six games.
Angels 6, Rays 2
In Anaheim, Albert Pujols hit a pair of solo home runs against David Price, and Matt Shoemaker took a shutout into the seventh inning.
Royals 8, Orioles 6
In Kansas City, Alex Gordon went 4-for-4 with a pair of three-run homers and a career-high six RBIs.
Norichika Aoki finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks for the Royals in the win.
Athletics 13, Indians 3
In Cleveland, Yoenis Cespedes drove in a career-high five runs and Brandon Moss had three RBIs as Oakland completed a three-game sweep.
Mariners 6, Twins 2
In Minneapolis, Felix Hernandez pitched eight strong innings and Robinson Cano had four hits.
Rangers 6, Blue Jays 2
In Arlington, Texas, Mitch Moreland hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, and Alex Rios had a two-run triple as Texas avoided a three-game sweep.
Astros 8, White Sox 2
In Houston, Matt Dominguez homered twice and had four RBIs to lead the Astros past Chicago.
Braves 6, Cardinals 5
In St. Louis, Ryan Doumit scored off a wild pitch as Atlanta got two runs in the ninth to rally past the Cardinals.
Giants 4, Marlins 1
In San Francisco, Pablo Sandoval homered for the first time in more than a month and Ryan Vogelsong won for just the second time in nine starts.
Cubs 4, Brewers 2
In Chicago, Travis Wood pitched two-hit ball for seven innings as the Cubs got home runs from Welington Castillo and Mike Olt.
Rockies 8, Padres 6 (10)
In Denver, Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning as Colorado turned the third triple play in team history.
Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 3
In Phoenix, Cody Ross hit his first home run of the year and Eric Chavez went deep for the second consecutive day.
Phillies 8, Reds 3
In Philadelphia, Cody Asche, Jimmy Rollins, Wil Nieves and Marlon Byrd all homered.
Nationals 6, Mets 3
In Washington, Wilson Ramos drove in four runs and Ian Desmond homered to help Jordan Zimmermann earn his first win in three starts.