Joe Girardi said Hiroki Kuroda is finally becoming comfortable in his first season with the New York Yankees.
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The Yankees seem to always feel comfortable in Atlanta.
Curtis Granderson hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning and the streaking Yankees beat the Braves 3-2 on Wednesday night to complete their second straight three-game sweep.
The Yankees, now 9-2 at Turner Field, have won all four regular-season series in Atlanta. Including the 1996 and 1999 World Series championships over the Braves, New York has won 14 of its last 16 games in Atlanta.
Kuroda (6-6) gave up two runs in six innings. He stranded runners in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings before giving up Brian McCann’s two-run shot in the fifth. Granderson answered an inning later with his 19th homer.
Kuroda has won three straight decisions, giving up a combined four runs in four starts in that span after he won only three of his first nine decisions.
Girardi said the 37-year-old Kuroda, who signed a one-year deal with New York following four seasons with the Dodgers, needed time to adjust to his new baseball home.
”I think getting comfortable in New York sometimes can take a while,” Girardi said. ”I’ve seen it happen to some great pitchers. It can take a while.”
Kuroda wasn’t so sure his success was a matter of adjusting to New York.
”I don’t know if I’m getting comfortable in New York,” Kuroda said through a translator. ”I think it’s one win at a time, one game at a time.”
Girardi said the Kuroda he saw beat the Braves is the pitcher the Yankees expected.
”This is what we saw in spring training,” Girardi said. ”This is what we saw last year and the scouts all saw. It’s just consistency. You’re starting to see the consistent velocity. You’re starting to see the consistent slider, a better curveball. That leads me to believe that he’ll continue.”
Alex Rodriguez had an RBI single in the first inning for the Yankees, who have surged into first place in the AL East with sweeps of the Mets and Braves.
Rafael Soriano gave up a single to Chipper Jones with two outs in the ninth before capping his 11th save by getting Jason Heyward to hit a popup to second base.
The Braves, who outhit the Yankees 12-7, wasted repeated scoring chances.
With runners on first and third in the eighth, Martin Prado hit into an inning-ending double play against Cody Eppley. It was the Braves’ sixth inning with runners in scoring position – they went 2 for 13 in that situation.
”We just couldn’t get anybody in from third base,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ”I think we left a guy on base every inning. It’s tough to pitch that way.”
The Braves also left runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings. They broke through against Kuroda only in the fifth.
Prado led off with a single. McCann, the next hitter, pulled a 2-2 pitch from Kuroda about 15 rows deep into the right field seats for his eighth homer, giving Atlanta a 2-1 lead.
Tim Hudson (4-3) gave up the lead before he could record an out in the sixth. Derek Jeter led off with a single. Granderson followed with his homer, a high flyball that stayed fair as it landed inside the right field pole and well beyond the reach of a leaping Jason Heyward, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
Hudson said the pitch Granderson hit for a homer was ”a cutter that didn’t cut.”
”It was frustrating, this series,” Hudson said, referring to Tuesday night’s loss when the Braves blew a 4-0 lead in losing 6-4.
”Last night I thought we were on the verge of breaking it open big all night and that didn’t happen. And tonight, we got the big homer from McCann and then I let them get back in it with a homer.”
Jeter led off the game with a double to center. He scored on a one-out single up the middle by Rodriguez.
Kuroda gave up nine hits and two walks. He set a season high with eight strikeouts.
Hudson gave up three runs on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in six innings.
The Braves’ frustrations with runners in scoring position continued when left-hander Boone Logan ended the seventh by getting Eric Hinske to fly out to center field, leaving runners stranded on first and third.
Hinske, who spent part of the 2009 season with the Yankees, started at first base. Freddie Freeman is still bothered by a bruised his left index finger. He was injured on June 6.
Freeman had three hits against Toronto on Sunday but was 0 for 7 in the first two games against the Yankees.
Atlanta’s Michael Bourn had two hits to give him a 13-game hitting streak, matching his career best in 2011. Bourn grounded out with the bases loaded to end the second and struck out with runners on second and third to end the fourth.
NOTES: The Braves optioned RHP Cory Gearrin to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled RHP Anthony Varvaro from Gwinnett. Gearrin gave up Nick Swisher’s tiebreaking, two-run homer Tuesday night. … Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte threw in the bullpen and reported no problems after snagging a grounder with his bare left hand on Sunday. Pettitte is scheduled to start Sunday at Washington. … Attendance was 48,938, a sellout. … Braves LHP Eric O’Flaherty was not available in the bullpen for the second straight day due to stiffness in his left elbow. He said he plans to throw in the bullpen on Friday and hopes to be ready Friday or Saturday. … 2B Dan Uggla played his 1,000th game. … Former President Jimmy Carter wore a Braves cap as he watched the game from a seat near the Braves dugout. There was rain through much of the game but no delay. … Each team is off on Thursday. The Braves open a home series against Baltimore on Friday night and the Yankees continue their tour through the NL East when they open a series at Washington.