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NYY@NYM: Kuroda blanks Mets over seven strong innings

A noticeable buzz always surrounds any series between the Red Sox and Yankees.

However, New York manager Joe Girardi expects even more excitement with Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (6-3, 2.39 ERA) on the hill for Sunday's series finale between the two clubs at Yankee Stadium.

"Kuroda's been really good the two years that we've had him," Girardi said. "He's been very consistent, and you feel like you're always going to have a chance to win, so we get excited when he goes out there."

Kuroda dueled with Mets right-hander Matt Harvey on Tuesday, allowing just four hits in seven scoreless innings. However, Kuroda was left with a no-decision when Mariano Rivera blew his first save of the season.

Allowing a runner to reach second base just twice in the game, it marked Kuroda's eighth quality start this season.

He'll have some stiff competition with right-hander Clay Buchholz on the mound for the Red Sox. Buchholz, who is 7-0 this season with a minuscule 1.73 ERA, will make his first start since May 22.

The right-hander was scratched from his last start because of irritation in his AC joint near the collarbone. He's thrown a bullpen session with no lingering soreness or irritation and manager John Farrell said Buchholz will not operate under a pitch count.

"We'll monitor the stress level inning to inning and the total number of pitches thrown," Farrell said. "We don't go in with a hard and fast number."

Before the minor bump in the road, Buchholz had been one of the best pitchers in the Majors, tossing quality starts in nine of his 10 outings and holding opponents to a .194 batting average.

"We tried to quicken the pace in which guys work and to kind of dictate the rhythm and tempo of the game," Farrell said of the rotation's approach with pitching coach Juan Nieves. "It's allowed our defense to play a little more sharp or more efficiently. I can't say it's been any revelation, but it's been a quicker tempo and attacking the strike zone."

Red Sox: Ellsbury still out of lineup
• Jacoby Ellsbury was held out of the Red Sox's lineup against the Yankees due to left groin tightness for the second straight game on Saturday.

Farrell said Ellsbury has shown signs of improvement, but he didn't feel comfortable penciling him into the starting lineup.

"The improvement that Jacoby has made as far as yesterday to today is very encouraging," Farrell said on Saturday. "Not ruling out tomorrow as his availability, but still, we've got to monitor and check in with him when he comes to the park. But the improvement is encouraging today."

Yankees: Youkilis set to start at third in finale
• While Kevin Youkilis was in the Yankees' lineup on Saturday for the second consecutive day as a designated hitter, Girardi said that his plan is to send Youkilis back to third base for Sunday's series finale against the Red Sox.

It will be his first time at the hot corner since spending the last month on the disabled list with a lumbar spine sprain before being activated on Friday.

"I think hitting can be just as irritating because of the rotation," Girardi said. "I think with backs, a lot of times you worry about the rotation more than anything. From my experience, I've [injured] it a lot of different ways, and in ways you don't even expect to do it, so I don't necessarily think so playing defense."

Worth noting
• Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter played catch on the field at Yankee Stadium again on Saturday, the fourth straight day he has done so. Jeter said that he has a CT scan on his left ankle scheduled after this homestand and that he could increase his activity if the exam shows his ankle is healing as expected.

• Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava turned in his first career four-hit game Saturday night. He hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, giving him eight on the season.

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