The winning streak may be over, but the New York Yankees are still at a rolling boil in June.
The Yankees were placed on simmer in last night's loss to the Atlanta Braves and saw their season-best 10-game run come to a halt. They can still capture their sixth series victory of the month this afternoon in the finale of a three-game set versus the Braves at Yankee Stadium.
New York managed just five hits in a 4-3 loss to Atlanta and Nick Swisher was the lone highlight on offense, going 2-for-3 with two runs batted in. Swisher was back in the lineup after missing two games because of a thigh bruise. Raul Ibanez scored both runs and Derek Jeter went 0-for-3 to have his nine-game hitting streak come to an end.
Jeter is still seven hits shy of tying Hall of Famer Cal Ripken for 13th place on the all-time list.
Hiroki Kuroda couldn't keep the Yankees' pitching surge going and was slapped with the loss for allowing four runs, including two in the top of the fourth inning, and six hits in seven frames. Yankees starter entered the game 12-1 with a 1.97 earned run average this month.
"I think I was trying to be too perfect with all my pitches, and I was really being aggressive in the first three innings," Kuroda said through an interpreter on the club's website. "In that [fourth] inning, I wasn't being aggressive."
The Yankees are still 2 1/2 games ahead of Baltimore and three games in front of Tampa Bay for the AL East lead, and were aiming for the first 11-game winning streak since 1985. They fell to 14-3 in June and had won 10 straight and 18 of 21 interleague games. New York is now 10-1 during a stretch of 15 straight games against NL East opponents and is slated to visit the Mets at Citi Field over the weekend.
Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez needs one RBI to move into sixth place on the all-time list. A-Rod is tied with Jimmy Foxx with 1,924 runs batted in.
It's been more than a month since Phil Hughes reached the loss column and the Yankees hope he can keep that stretch going. Hughes gets the nod today and is 4-0 in his last five starts. He won his third start in a row in Friday's 7-2 win at Washington, as he fired six innings of one-run ball and struck out a season-high nine batters.
For the first time in 13 starts this year, Hughes did not permit a home run.
The right-hander is 4-2 in six starts in the Bronx this season and 7-5 with a 4.50 earned run average in 13 outings overall. He will make his first career start against the Braves and has faced them once in relief, throwing two scoreless frames with a pair of strikeouts.
Atlanta will try to avoid losing three series in a row in Wednesday's rubber match with the Yankees, and won for just the second time in nine tries in last night's all-around effort.
Chipper Jones hit an RBI double and Andrelton Simmons added a run-scoring single in the fourth inning, while Jason Heyward plated Brian McCann on a sacrifice fly in the sixth to put the Braves in front to stay. Simmons finished with two RBI for Atlanta, which is 3 1/2 games off the lead in the National League East.
Heyward made some nice catches in the field and also gunned down Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira at the plate in the fifth inning. Heyward has hit safely in 14 of his last 18 games, and owns five doubles, a triple, two homers and eight RBI in his past 15 contests. He has five multi-hit games in that span.
"He can change a game so many different ways," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Heyward. "Offensively, defensively, on the basepaths, and he did today."
Michael Bourn was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and entered the game with hits in 16 of 17 games. He had a career-high 14-game hitting streak come to an end on Saturday versus Baltimore.
Tim Hudson and four relievers were able to keep the Braves ahead, while the veteran starter improved to 5-3 and held the Yankees to three runs -- two earned -- and four hits in five innings. Hudson struck out five batters and got into some trouble at times with five walks. Chad Durbin, Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel kept New York off the scoreboard the rest of the way, with the latter picking up his 20th save.
The Braves will resume their six-game trek in Boston over the weekend.
Atlanta hopes Tommy Hanson can add to his team lead in wins when he takes the mound today in the Bronx. Hanson did not record a decision in Friday's 4-2 win over Baltimore and was reached for a pair of unearned runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. Hanson, who has won two straight and four of five decisions, remained at 7-4 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.32 in his 14th start.
Hanson, a right-hander, allowed a season-high six walks versus the Orioles and has yielded two runs or fewer in eight of his past nine starts. He is 5-2 in eight road starts this season and won his only start against the Yankees on June 23, 2009 in a 4-0 victory at Turner Field. Hanson was a rookie then and delivered 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
Atlanta ended a six-game slide to the Yankees on Tuesday. New York holds a 16-11 advantage in the all-time series with the Braves.