NEW YORK (AP) - Considering his previous two outings, Phil Humber was pleased with his performance against the New York Yankees.
Still, it wasn't good enough.
Humber threw four wild pitches in giving up four runs, and the Houston Astros failed to take advantage of Hiroki Kuroda's rough start in a 7-4 loss Tuesday night.
``I feel like I threw the ball well. I'm a little bit frustrated, but it's part of the game,' Humber said. ``Just keep working harder, keep getting better.'
Kuroda (4-1) threw 67 pitches in the first three innings, putting at least two runners on in each one. But just as he did in his previous start, he got into a better rhythm and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.
The right-hander won his fourth straight decision, matching a career best. He walked four for the second time this season.
``If we could have gotten a few runs earlier with the opportunities that we had and made a couple of the crucial break-point plays, then the outcome could have been a little different,' Houston manager Bo Porter said.
The Astros didn't take batting practice one night after amassing 17 hits. They had several early opportunities against Kuroda but looked a lot more like the young, free-swinging club they are than they did on Monday. They struck out 12 times
With two on in the first, Carlos Pena struck out and Chris Carter grounded out. Jose Altuve grounded into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded in the second and Houston went down three in a row following Jason Castro's double and Pena's walk to open the third.
After Pena's walk, Kuroda allowed just one batter to reach - a leadoff single in the fifth by Altuve. Kuroda struck out five after the walk and had eight Ks overall.
``Today, like last outing, my balance was off, mechanically,' he said through a translator. ``My release point was off, too.'
While Kuroda found his groove, Humber (0-6) looked spooked with runners on.
The right-hander entered having given up 18 hits and 15 runs over his last two starts and got in trouble right away.
Brett Gardner walked and stole second, Ichiro Suzuki had an infield hit and, after Pena made a fine stab behind first base on Robinson Cano's sharp grounder, Travis Hafner hit an opposite-field single to left for the first run.
The Astros turned their fifth double play of the series and major league-leading 36th to end the threat.
Suzuki struck out but reached on a wild pitch in the third and scored on Hafner's hit to center field. In the fifth, the Yankees used three singles, two wild pitches and a grounder by Jayson Nix to score twice.
Humber was lifted after the sixth trailing 4-0. He came in with 1.14 runs of support, the lowest in the majors among pitchers with five starts. Humber gave up nine hits and walked two, one intentionally.
``He did a great job of giving us an opportunity to win this game and that's what you want from you starter,' Porter said.
Nix had an RBI infield single and Brennan Boesch a run-scoring fielder's choice for the banged-up Bronx Bombers, who bounced back from a 9-1 loss to the Astros on Monday.
Yankees reliever David Robertson gave up a two-run homer to Carter in the eighth to make it 4-2. But Lyle Overbay homered off Brad Peacock, recently demoted to the bullpen, to open the bottom half and Chris Stewart had an RBI single to restore the four-run lead. Hafner made it 7-2 with another single, his third RBI single of the night.
``You just see that his approach is good, and he's been great in that four-hole for us,' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ``With all the people we have out, he's done a really good job in our lineup.'
Shawn Kelley gave up a two-run double to Altuve in the ninth and walked off the mound to many in the sparse crowd chanting ``We want Mo!' Girardi obliged and Mariano Rivera got one out for his 10 straight save to start the season.
Suzuki had three of the Yankees' 15 hits. He had two infield hits and reached on a wild pitch after striking out. Suzuki stole his second base of the year and scored twice.
NOTES: Carter's home run was the Astros' 27th in their first April in the AL. They had 12 last year as a member of the NL Central. ... The first two innings took almost an hour. ... Astros OF J.D. Martinez (sprained right knee) was scheduled to start a rehab assignment at Double-A Corpus Christi. ... Yankees RHP David Phelps (1-1) is set to make his first start of the season in place of injured Ivan Nova on Wednesday. LHP Erik Bedard (0-2) goes for the Astros.
The Associated Press News Service
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