Mariners defeat Hiroki Kuroda and Yankees, 4-2

Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees stands on the

Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees stands on the mound in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, May 1, 2014. (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda made appearances at Yankee Stadium Thursday night.

Not on the mound, of course.

The two injured righthanders were in the Yankees' clubhouse as reminders of what the team is missing with 40 percent of its starting rotation on the shelf. Pineda, who has a strained lat muscle on top of his pine tar suspension, could be back in three to four weeks, but Nova is out for the season after Tommy John surgery.

The sudden disappearance of the Yankees' starting depth puts more stress on Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia to pitch well. But Sabathia lost to Seattle on Tuesday night and Kuroda was not stellar Thursday night in a 4-2 loss to the Mariners.

Kuroda, coming off his worst start of the season, allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings to light-hitting Seattle. He gave up seven hits, walked one and struck out seven in lowering his ERA from 5.28 to 5.14. "He didn't pitch horribly tonight,'' Joe Girardi said. "I thought that was an improvement.''

Kuroda (2-3) said through his translator, "Right now, my breaking balls aren't working, and that is leading me to struggle.''

Robinson Cano, who was booed somewhat less emphatically by the crowd of 43,121 than he had been in his return on Tuesday night, went 1-for-4 with two RBIs as Seattle swept the rain-shortened two-game series.

Cano was 2-for-9 with three RBIs in his return. He will be back June 2 for the makeup of Wednesday night's rainout.

In his most recent outing, Kuroda had given up eight runs (six earned) and 10 hits in a 13-1 loss to the Angels. He wasn't hit that hard by the Mariners but was outdueled by 25-year-old lefthander Roenis Elias (2-2), making his sixth career start.

Elias went seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned). He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out 10. "Basically, we couldn't do nothing against him,'' Carlos Beltran said.

Said Girardi, "Pretty good stuff, that young man.''

The Yankees had the tying run at the plate in the ninth after Ichiro Suzuki's two-out single, but Fernando Rodney struck out Brett Gardner looking to end it.

Cano opened the scoring with an RBI double into the rightfield corner in the first.

Jacoby Ellsbury, back after missing Tuesday night's game with a sore left hand, led off the bottom of the first with his first homer as a Yankee. The blast to right was the Yankees' first leadoff homer since Derek Jeter on Aug. 12, 2012.

Seattle went ahead in the third with an unearned run. After Jeter committed an error on Brad Miller's leadoff roller, Cano's RBI forceout made it 2-1.

Kuroda also allowed a pair of two-out runs in the fourth. No. 9 hitter Miller had an RBI single to left and Michael Saunders' ground-rule double made it 4-1.

Elias, meanwhile, was dealing. He struck out the side in the first after Ellsbury's home run and repeated the feat in the fifth.

The Yankees made it 4-2 in the sixth with an unearned run after an odd error charged to Cano.

With two outs and Alfonso Soriano on first, Mark Teixeira hit a grounder to Cano, who back-flipped the ball to shortstop Miller. Only problem: Miller wasn't at second base, just near it. Miller tried to throw to first to get Teixeira -- and nearly skulled Cano in the process -- but couldn't get Teixeira.

Brian McCann followed with a run-scoring single to left, but with the tying runs on base, Yangervis Solarte grounded to third for a forceout at second.

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