NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees fans showed Don Mattingly the love from the moment he took the lineup card to home plate Wednesday. Hiroki Kuroda, though, wasn’t feeling nostalgic when facing his old team.
Kuroda shut down Los Angeles into the seventh inning, Ichiro Suzuki homered and drove in three runs, and the New York Yankees spoiled Mattingly’s return to the Bronx with a 6-4 victory over the sloppy Dodgers in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.
“Once the game started I didn’t really focus too much on who I was facing,” Kuroda said through a translator. “I was trying to contribute for the Yankees.”
Lyle Overbay hit a two-run double against South Korean rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-3) in the first game in New York between the old October rivals since Los Angeles clinched the 1981 World Series title with a win in Game 6 at the original Yankee Stadium. The teams that have met in a record 11 World Series — eight won by the Yankees — never faced off in interleague play at the Stadium before this week.
Baseball’s two injury battered $200 million teams have to pack a two-game series into one day because rain postponed Tuesday night’s opener. Los Angeles’ Chris Capuano was activated off the disabled list after the first game and was scheduled to start the nightcap against New York’s Phil Hughes.
Cuban rookie Yasiel Puig put on quite a show for a vocal contingent of Dodgers fans. He led off the eighth by daringly stretching a liner to left-center into a double — he got thrown out trying a similar play in the first. He also tried to throw a runner out at first on a single to right field in the second inning and struck out to end the game against Mariano Rivera.
“His talent’s great and his aggressiveness we love, because you love the way he plays,” Mattingly said. “But we’ve got to make sure that we continue to teach, and for him to understand the right times to take those chances.”
Suzuki made a leaping catch at the wall in right field for the first out of the eighth before Hanley Ramirez connected for a two-run homer off Preston Claiborne for his fourth hit of the game to cut the lead to 6-4. The Yankees had scored three times in the seventh thanks in part to reliever Ronald Belisario’s two errors on one play. The Dodgers made four errors overall.
David Robertson relieved Claiborne and walked his first two batters before ending the inning without further damage. Rivera was perfect in the ninth for his 25th save, ending hopes that Mattingly’s return to the city where No. 23 starred from 1982-95 would be a success.
He may be wearing the wrong shade of blue now but Yankees fans still love Mattingly.
There was the “Donnie Baseball!” chant from the Bleacher Creatures for the 1985 AL MVP ahead of the bottom of the first and a video tribute for a career enshrined with a plaque in Monument Park before the Yankees scored twice in the second. Both times Mattingly answered the applause with a wave of the cap from the visitors’ dugout.
“It means a lot. It’s always been part of me,” Mattingly said. “I played my whole career here, so it’s obviously a good feeling when people appreciate the way you played and acted.”
The Yankees quickly turned the attention back onto the field, scoring twice in the second against Ryu. After Neal and Suzuki led off with singles and advanced on David Adams’ sacrifice, Overbay laced a line drive over center fielder Andre Ethier’s head for the 2-0 lead.
Kuroda (7-5), who began his Major League career with the Dodgers in 2008 and won 41 games for them before coming to New York for 2012, limited Los Angeles to five hits and helped himself by catching a liner to start a double play with runners on second and third in the fourth before the seventh. He was lifted after giving up A.J. Ellis’ sacrifice fly and former Yankees utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr.’s two-out, RBI pinch-hit single in the seventh.
Kuroda allowed eight hits overall and two runs.
The Yankees added three more in the bottom half of the seventh, helped when, with runners on first and second, Belisario let Vernon Wells’ meek pop in front of the mound drop for an error. Jayson Nix advanced to third on the drop and scored when Belisario threw the ball into center field trying to get Robinson Cano at second base. Belisario hit Neal with a pitch, then Suzuki greeted Paco Rodriguez with a blooped two-run single to make it 6-2.
“It was just a combination of us not executing when we needed to make the plays,” Ellis said of the loss.
Suzuki homered for the first time this season in the sixth off Ryu, who gave up three runs and five hits.
Suzuki had three hits for his fourth multihit game in his last six games, but is not sure he’s finally done with a season-long slump.
“I have no idea,” Suzuki said through a translator. “Ask a fortune teller.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)