Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda pitches from the mound in the...

Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda pitches from the mound in the rain during a game against the Atlanta Braves. (June 13, 2012) Credit: AP

ATLANTA -- This was not the Hiroki Kuroda seen five days before when he confounded the Mets over seven innings.

But in some ways the 37-year-old's performance Wednesday night was more impressive as the Yankees continued to roll, completing a three-game sweep of the Braves with a 3-2 victory in front of a soaked crowd of 48,938 at Turner Field.

The Yankees (37-25), off Thursday before starting a three-game series against the NL East-leading Nationals tomorrow night in Washington, won their sixth straight and 11th of 13.

"You need to pitch," said Joe Girardi, whose team has the AL's best record. "If you're going to have a chance, you need to pitch, and that has made the biggest difference."

Kuroda (6-6, 3.43 ERA) did not have the quality of stuff he did Friday in the Bronx, but still ended up allowing two earned runs or fewer for the ninth time in 13 starts and improved to 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last four starts.

Kuroda had allowed one hit against the Mets -- while receiving copious run support -- before being forced out after taking a line drive off his left foot.

The word of the night in Wednesday night's game?

"I had to grind," Kuroda said through his translator.

Catcher Russell Martin added: "We had to grind it out."

Kuroda received little run support over six innings but left with the lead, the result of Curtis Granderson's two-run homer -- his 19th of the season -- off Tim Hudson in the sixth that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead that their still stellar-performing bullpen made stand up.

Boone Logan stranded two runners in the seventh and Cody Eppley worked his way out of a runners-at-the-corners-one-out jam in the eighth by inducing a double play.

Rafael Soriano earned his 11th save in 12 chances with a scoreless ninth.

"It feels good to be able to go out there in that kind of situation and get the job done," Eppley said.

The Braves (34-29) left 13 on base, the majority of which Kuroda was responsible for. He worked into and out of trouble the first four innings before Brian McCann stung him with a two-run homer in the fifth that gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. Kuroda allowed at least one baserunner in each of his six innings.

"When guys get on base, guys get in scoring position he just gets tougher," Martin said. "He's going to make guys earn it."

Said Kuroda of handling runners aboard: "The most important factor is to stay focused."

Until McCann's eighth homer of the season, the game's only run had come in the first inning when Alex Rodriguez brought in Derek Jeter, who had two hits, from third with a one-out single.

In a statistical oddity, the Yankees improved to 17-0 this season when A-Rod has an RBI.

Overall it was an unusual night, one that the Turner Field scoreboard set the tone for before the game by posting there was a "zero" percent chance of rain for the evening.

As Mark Teixeira said afterward, it then "rained for 98 percent" of the night.

Both pitchers had to overcome the inclement conditions and Hudson was nearly as good as Kuroda, allowing three runs and six hits in six innings.

"I finally got a pitch around the plate I could somewhat handle," Granderson said of Hudson's 1-and-1 pitch that he pulled down the rightfield line to give the Yankees the lead for good. "He pitched well."

But the Yankees pitched better and, in general, are consistently doing the things to win games they weren't in April and the first three weeks of May. when they had their share of issues.

"We know what kind of talent we have in this room," Nick Swisher said. "And we just want to continue to play well."

More Yankees headlines


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.