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Yanks score three in ninth and blank Dodgers

Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda throws to the

Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda throws to the plate during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. (July 31, 2013) Credit: AP

LOS ANGELES -- Hiroki Kuroda made it sound as if he didn't belong.

"If I had a choice, I would rather not face him," Kuroda said Tuesday, the day before he was to oppose Clayton Kershaw in a matchup of AL and NL Cy Young Award candidates.

Kuroda proved more than worthy, though so do did Kershaw, the game predictably a long run of zeros on the scoreboard.

Pinch hitter Lyle Overbay finally broke that string with a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning, the key hit in the Yankees' 3-0 victory over the Dodgers in front of 53,013 at Dodger Stadium.

"He was brilliant again," Joe Girardi said of Kuroda, who allowed five hits and struck out eight in seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 2.38. "To have the ERA that he has in our division and our ballpark is pretty amazing."

Of Kuroda, Derek Jeter simply said: "He's been as consistent as anyone in baseball. He's a guy you like to see on the mound. He's been pretty good every time out."

The Yankees (56-51), off Thursday before starting a three-game series Friday in San Diego, dropped the red-hot Dodgers (57-49) to 10-2 since the All-Star break.

Overbay, sent up to pinch hit for Brent Lillibridge, came through after falling behind 0-and-2 against lefthander Paco Rodriguez, brought in to face him.

"I didn't stick with my game plan because I kept swinging at those [sliders] in the dirt," said Overbay, who drove in both Yankee runs in Tuesday's 3-2 loss. "He finally hung one that last pitch and I was able to get good enough wood on it."

The single brought in Robinson Cano, who earlier in the inning beat out a double-play ball.

Two more runs came in when second baseman Mark Ellis dropped Jayson Nix's pop-up that should have ended the inning, giving Mariano Rivera a 3-0 cushion.

The 43-year-old closer pitched a scoreless ninth to record his 34th save in 36 chances.

Kuroda came in 10-6 with a 2.51 ERA, having gone 0-3 with a 0.69 ERA in his previous four outings. Wednesday night against his former team the 38-year-old Kuroda, who has happy with his splitter, was as good as he's been all season.

"At first it was a little bit strange, I have to admit," Kuroda, a Dodger from 2008-2011, said of taking the Dodger Stadium mound in a visiting team uniform. "But once the game started I was able to get into the game and into a rhythm."

As was Kershaw, who is 10-6 with a 1.87 ERA, the best in the majors among starters. Kershaw allowed five hits and struck out five in eight shutout innings.

It was the pitchers' battle most anticipated it would be, decided not by either starter but by the bullpens. In that regard, the Yankees' was just a bit better.

Meanwhile, Thursday's off day could bring news regarding the Biogenesis suspensions, including the fate of Alex Rodriguez.

"We're fans, too so we're hoping the process is working and the game is getting cleaned up and we can get it over with and move on," Overbay said of the long-awaited announcement from MLB that also could come tomorrow. "We're worried about the guys in here but if Alex comes back, he comes back and he's going to help us out. But we can't bank on that."

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