Yankees counting on Kuroda in opener with Royals

The Yankees opened their current homestand with a series loss, but an appearance tonight by Hiroki Kuroda suggests the club could get the back end of this residency off to a good start.

Kuroda looks to improve on his solid home numbers as New York begins a three- game series against the Kansas City Royals.

The right-handed Kuroda is winless on the road this season, but the first-year Yankee has logged a 3-1 record with a 3.08 earned run average in four starts at his new home.

Kuroda faced the Royals for the first time in his career on May 5 in Kansas City and suffered the loss, charged with three runs -- two earned -- over just 4 1/3 innings.

After beating the Mariners at home six days later, Kuroda was hammered for a career high-tying seven runs over five frames of an 8-1 loss at Toronto on Wednesday. The 37-year-old yielded three homers in the contest, but did fan a season high-matching six batters while falling to 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA in eight starts this season.

New York will welcome Kansas City to town after losing the final two contests of a three-game series with Cincinnati over the weekend. CC Sabathia failed to hold onto a slim lead in Sunday's finale, losing a 5-2 decision.

Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer for the Yankees in the sixth inning, but Sabathia was touched for three runs in the seventh after having not allowed a hit until the fifth. The big lefty gave up a pair of homers in the frame and New York lost for the fifth time in six games as it sits fourth overall in the American League East.

"It was 2-0 in the seventh inning," said Sabathia. "That should be good enough to win a ballgame, especially since I felt like I was pitching pretty good up until that point. It should be enough."

Manager Joe Girardi is hoping that first baseman Mark Teixeira can play the full nine innings tonight after opting not to start him on Saturday or Sunday. Teixeira is battling severely inflamed bronchial airways, but did pinch-hit on Sunday. He is batting .226 on the year in 38 games with five homers and 20 RBI.

The Royals didn't have much luck in interleague play over the weekend either, dropping Sunday's rubber match with the Diamondbacks by a 2-0 margin.

Nathan Adcock was the tough-luck loser, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out three.

Jeff Francoeur went 4-for-4 at the plate, including a two-out triple in the sixth, but the Royals were unable to push any runs across the dish and lost for the fourth time in their last five tries.

"Nate pitched his butt off today," Francoeur said. "We just as a group today offensively just didn't get it done."

Felipe Paulino was able to get it done when he faced the Yankees in his season debut on May 5 and looks for a repeat performance tonight.

After missing the beginning of the campaign due to a right forearm strain, the right-hander retired the first 11 Yankee batters he faced and ended up throwing six scoreless innings of four-hit ball with six strikeouts in a win. He improved to 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in two career outings versus the Yankees.

Paulino then allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings of a loss to the White Sox next time out, but threw another seven shutout frames to top the Orioles on Wednesday. He allowed five hits and two walks with nine strikeouts, but did not get a decision in a game that went 15 innings.

The Yankees and Royals split a four-game series in Kansas City from May 3-6.