Hiroki Kuroda hopes to deliver the New York Yankees a series win on Sunday when they play the rubber match of their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium.
Kuroda did not get a decision in Boston on Tuesday, but pitched well, allowing three runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 frames. He also struck out six without walking a batter in his team' 4-3 loss.
The Japanese right-hander, who is 13-10 with a 3.17 ERA on the year, could get himself back into the win column at home, where he is 5-2 with 1.85 ERA in his last nine outings. He's also pitched to a 0.84 ERA in six afternoon starts this season.
Kuroda beat the Rays two starts ago and is 1-1 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts against them this season.
New York got a much-needed lift from Ivan Nova on Saturday, as he struck out eight over six-plus innings in the Yankees' 5-3 triumph.
Nova (12-7) had been sidelined since Aug. 21 with inflammation in his right rotator cuff, but the right-hander allowed just two runs on four hits and two walks to earn his first victory since Aug. 11.
"I wasn't really expecting him to get into the seventh, but he kept his pitch count down and the way he was throwing ... we just kept him going." Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. "I was extremely impressed with his stuff today and his command and what he did out there."
Rafael Soriano fired a scoreless ninth to secure his 39th save of the season and New York's third win in its last four games.
Curtis Granderson clubbed a two-run homer and Eduardo Nunez followed with a solo shot in the second, as the Yankees regained a one-game lead over Baltimore atop the AL East. The Orioles lost in Oakland later on Saturday.
James Shields (14-9) yielded four runs on six hits and a walk over 6 1/3 frames to absorb the loss.
Evan Longoria smacked a solo homer and Luke Scott ripped a pinch-hit, two-run single in the seventh, but the Rays lost for the fourth time in their last five games and remained three games behind the O's for the final AL Wild Card spot.
"It's the offense," Longoria said of the club's recent struggles. "We gotta get hits. We gotta produce runs. However we have to do it, we gotta do it. The time is now."
Heading to the hill for Tampa Bay on Sunday will be 23-year-old left-hander Matt Moore, who has lost his last three starts. Moore's latest loss came in Baltimore on Tuesday, as he allowed three runs (2 earned) and four hits in four innings to fall to 10-10 on the year to go along with a 3.68 ERA.
Moore lost to Kuroda and the Yanks back on Sept. 5, but is 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts against them. He fired five scoreless innings, though, in his only other Yankee Stadium start last September.
"We did like Matt pitching here," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Part of it is a lefty thing, and he's pitched well here in the past and he's been pitching well. He had a tough start the last time out, but that happens. I feel good about him here (on Sunday)."
Tampa has won 10 of its 17 meetings with the Yankees this season, but is just 3-5 in the Bronx.