NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda settled down after some early struggles with his command and pitched seven innings for his fourth straight win and the New York Yankees concluded April with a 7-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
Kuroda (4-1) tied a season high by allowing four walks and seemed to be living dangerously in the opening three innings as he yielded eight base runners while throwing 67 pitches.
After getting the final two outs of the third on ground balls, Kuroda settled in even more. He gave up just a fifth-inning single to Jose Altuve, who was thrown out trying to steal and breezed through his final four innings throwing 41 pitches.
The strong finish gave Kuroda a 2.25 ERA, and during this winning streak, he has allowed nine earned runs and 23 hits spanning 34 2/3 innings.
It also was similar to last Thursday against Toronto when Kuroda gave up three runs and six hits in six innings but settled down after the opening two innings.
Unlike that outing, Kuroda had a lead as Travis Hafner had RBI singles in his first two at-bats and three overall.
David Robertson gave up a two-run home run to Chris Carter with two outs in the eighth but recovered and struck out Rick Ankiel. Shawn Kelley gave up a two-run double to Altuve in the ninth, forcing the Yankees to bring in Mariano Rivera.
Rivera came on and struck out Jason Castro for his 10th save in as many opportunities.
The Yankees stacked the top and middle of the lineup with left-handed hitters as Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Robinson Cano, Hafner and Brennan Boesch comprised the first five spots. That group went 8-for-21, got on base 13 times and scored the first four runs.
Another left-handed hitter was responsible for New York's fifth run as Lyle Overbay hit a solo shot off Brad Peacock to start the eighth. Eduardo Nunez, who had three hits, scored New York's sixth run on Chris Stewart's base hit and Hafner followed with his third run-scoring single.
Houston fell to 8-19 as Philip Humber (0-6) was unable to duplicate Lucas Harrell's solid 6 1/3 innings in the series opener. Humber remained winless by allowing four runs and nine hits along with four wild pitches over six innings.
After Kuroda stranded two in the top of the first, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning, aided by speed at the top of the order. Gardner walked, stole second and took third on Suzuki's soft infield single to third before scoring on Hafner's line-drive single to left field.
In the second, Suzuki reached on a wild pitch on a strikeout, stole second on the first pitch to Hafner and easily scored on a single to left field, making it 2-0.
The Yankees added two more in the fifth by loading the bases on singles by Suzuki and Cano and an intentional walk to Hafner. Boesch appeared to hit into an inning-ending double play but beat the throw as Suzuki scored. Following a wild pitch by Humber, Cano scored on Jayson Nix's infield single.
NOTES: The Yankees finally placed 3B Kevin Youkilis on the 15-day disabled list with what is being called lumbar spine sprain. That is the same injury that cost Youkilis 23 games nearly a year ago with the Boston Red Sox. Youkilis has played once since April 20, Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. "If we could do it all over again, we would not have played him last Saturday," general manager Brian Cashman said. ... To replace Youkilis on the roster, INF Corban Joseph was promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Joseph played mostly second base in the minors but was the only other infielder currently on the 40-man roster, which means that Jayson Nix is the starting third baseman until Youkilis returns. .... Houston manager Bo Porter will announce Wednesday his starter for Thursday's series opener in Detroit. That spot previously was held by RHP Brad Peacock, who is 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA.