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Hiroki Kuroda's solid effort wasted as Yanks are blanked by Rockies

Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda throws to the

Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda throws to the plate against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning. (May 7, 2013) Credit: AP

DENVER - Really, the surprise is that there haven't been more of these kinds of nights for the Yankees.

With the makeshift lineups Joe Girardi has had to put on the field much of the season because of injuries, there's a reason the Yankees' fast start has shocked more than a few.

But during the course of a long season, the law of averages generally rules the day, and a lineup such as Tuesday night's featuring Vernon Wells at cleanup and Ben Francisco hitting fifth can't be expected to produce much.

It didn't, as the Yankees were shut down by lefthander Jorge De La Rosa and three relievers in a 2-0 loss to the Rockies on a rainy night in front of 41,595 at Coors Field.

"It's hard to win games when you're getting four hits and putting no runs on the board," said Wells, who went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .270, still among the highest for Yankees regulars. "[Hiroki] Kuroda threw the ball well, we just couldn't do anything to support him."

The Yankees (18-13) managed just three hits against De Le Rosa, who went six innings. De La Rosa (3-3) walked one and struck out a pair in improving to 3-0 with a 0.98 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

"You don't want anybody to get hurt but the worst thing you can do is start thinking, 'we don't have this guy, or we don't have that guy,' '' said Robinson Cano, who went 0-for-4. "We just have to go out there and keep ourselves in the race until we get the rest of the guys."

The hard-luck loser was Kuroda, who entered Tuesday night with some horrid career numbers in this ballpark but was outstanding much of the outing.

Kuroda (4-2, 2.30) shut out the Rockies for 52/3 innings before Carlos Gonzalez's seventh homer of the season, a two-run shot, broke a scoreless tie.

Kuroda retired the first two batters of the inning before Josh Rutledge singled. Gonzalez then sent a full-count, 90-mph fastball that the pitcher said he wanted up and in but instead came in a bit lower, into the Colorado bullpen in right-center to make it 2-0.

"It was just down enough to where he could get a good swing on it,'' catcher Chris Stewart said. "Such a fine line with that guy, where you can miss and where you can't. We found out where we can't. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only bad pitch the whole night.''

Said Girardi: "He made one mistake and it cost us the game. He pitched well enough to win, that's for sure.''

Kuroda allowed just those two runs and seven hits in seven innings. It was a solid start regardless of opponent and venue, but especially against the Rockies and especially here.

The 38-year-old entered the night 1-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 10 career starts against the Rockies; 1-2 with a 6.85 ERA in four previous starts at Coors Field.

Afterward, Kuroda bemoaned his one poor pitch, not the lack of run support, though he certainly would have been entitled.

"There are days where I get a lot of run support and there are days like today,'' Kuroda said. "But all I can do is make sure I give my team a chance and continue to pitch.''

For the most part, the Yankees have pitched well all season but as the injuries continue to mount -- shortstop Eduardo Nuñez is the latest victim, day-to-day with tightness in his left rib cage -- the question remains just how much the club can sustain.

"It makes it more difficult when backups are replacing backups,'' Girardi said before the game. "Because your depth is really tested. Sometimes kids aren't ready or you may not have someone ready to step up to that position. So that makes it more difficult."

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