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Kuroda pitches neatly into 7th, Gardner drives in 2 as Yankees beat Rays 4-2

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Hiroki Kuroda got a couple extra days between starts and it looked as if it paid off.

Kuroda pitched neatly into the seventh inning, Brett Gardner drove in two runs and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Sunday.

Kuroda (8-8) retired 17 straight batters after allowing consecutive one-out singles to Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce in the first.

"I was able to physically get refreshed as well as mentally," Kuroda said through a translator.

Kuroda gave up two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings. After Shawn Kelley and Dellin Betances combined for 1 1-3 scoreless innings, David Robertson closed for his 33rd save.

"He had everything in his arsenal today," New York manager Joe Girardi said of Kuroda, who lasted just 4 2-3 innings in his previous start.

New York has won two in a row after losing five straight.

"We won our last two, and hopefully go home and win five or six and keep on going," Gardner said.

Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the fifth.

After a walk to Stephen Drew, Martin Prado doubled and Gardner followed with a two-run single. Jacoby Ellsbury, hitless in his previous 17 at-bats during a five-game road trip, made it 3-1 with an RBI single on New York's fourth straight hit.

"The walk to Drew really set the game the other way," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Hellickson made his sixth start after right elbow surgery in January. He left after the fifth.

PHOTO: New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, of Japan, delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
New York Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, of Japan, delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Mark Teixeira reached 20 homers for the 11th time in his career with a solo shot in the Yankees eighth. The slugger tied Joe DiMaggio for 80th place on the all-time list with 361.

Evan Longoria had two RBIs for the Rays. He hit a run-scoring grounder in the first and drove in Joyce with a seventh-inning single that pulled Tampa Bay within 3-2.

Prado also made several strong defensive plays at second base during Kuroda's long run of consecutive outs.

Tampa Bay had its club record of holding opponents to three runs or less end at 12 consecutive games. The Rays were just 7-5 over the stretch.

"That's like mid-'60s baseball," Maddon said. "We'd like to take a little more advantage than 7-5."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: Derek Jeter was the DH for the second straight game and sixth time this season. Jeter fouled a ball off his lower left leg Saturday, but Girardi said giving Jeter a break from the turf at Tropicana Field was behind the decision. ... C Brian McCann was hitless in four at-bats in his return after missing six games with a concussion.

Rays: RF Wil Myers (broken right wrist) could return this week. OF David DeJesus (broken left hand) will not play in a rehab game Monday due to hand soreness.

KURODA'S HOMEWORK

Joyce is 9 for 23 with three homers off Kuroda, which is something the right-hander has taken notice of.

"If I knew what causes it, I'm sure I'd be able to get him out," Kuroda said. "That's something that I have to take home and study."

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP Chris Capuano (1-3) is scheduled to start against Houston LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-8) Tuesday night.

Rays: Tampa Bay and Detroit begin a three-game series Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. Former Rays ace David Price is scheduled to face Tampa Bay for the first time Thursday.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: New York Yankees Masahiro Tanaka, left, of Japan, and Hiroki Kuroda, also of Japan, watch action against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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