Kuroda has never lost in seven career starts against the Astros while Humber has been hit hard in losing all five starts for Houston heading into Tuesday night's matchup.
Houston (8-18) ended a nine-game road slide as well as New York's four-game win streak with a 9-1 rout in Monday's opener of a three-game set.
The Yankees (15-10), though, figure to be heavily favored in the second game.
Kuroda (3-1, 2.79 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA against the Astros and brings in a 15-inning scoreless streak against them.
New York has won four straight starts by the right-hander, who is 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA in that span. He gave up three runs over six innings Thursday in a 5-3 home win over Toronto, settling down and not allowing a hit over his final four frames.
"This might be his best performance of the year," manager Joe Girardi said. "It says a lot because he didn't have a whole lot."
Kuroda's batterymate was the injured Francisco Cervelli in each of his last three outings, with Chris Stewart catching him in his first two 2013 outings. He has a 1.61 ERA with Cervelli behind the plate, but a 6.75 mark with Stewart.
Opponents are batting .215 against Kuroda this year while that figure is a robust .343 against Humber (0-5, 7.99).
Humber failed to get out of the first inning and allowed eight runs two starts ago against Cleveland before yielding seven over 4 2-3 innings Thursday in a 7-2 defeat at Boston.
"I'm just not making good pitches," Humber said. "It's not fun to go out there and get hit around like that."
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Yankees back in 2011.
One factor in his favor would be if he faces Ichiro Suzuki , who got the night off Monday. Humber is the pitcher Suzuki owns the most at-bats against without a hit, going 0 for 9 - 0 for 3 in Humber's perfect game last season with the White Sox.
Houston had 17 hits for its second-highest total to break a four-game overall slide. Carlos Corporan homered among his four hits and drove in four runs, Brandon Barnes had three hits and three RBIs and each set career highs for hits and RBIs.
The Astros recovered after being outscored 28-10 in a four-game sweep by the Red Sox."I know they can do it," manager Bo Porter said. "You're just waiting for it to happen night in and night out and be consistent. That's why we stay positive, because we know it's in there."
The top three hitters for New York combined to go 6 for 11, but the rest of the lineup was 2 for 20.
The Yankees were without Kevin Youkilis for the eighth time in nine games because of a bad back. He had an MRI on Monday and was placed on the disabled list Tuesday.
New York leads the all-time series 8-2.
|April 24, 2013||Justin Maxwell||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|April 20, 2013||J.D. Martinez||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|April 19, 2013||J.D. Martinez||Day-to-Day||Sprained Knee|
|April 05, 2013||Travis Blackley||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|April 05, 2013||Travis Blackley||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|April 04, 2013||Josh Fields||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|New York Yankees|
|April 27, 2013||Francisco Cervelli||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand|
|April 27, 2013||Ivan Nova||15-Day DL||Right triceps inflammation|
|April 26, 2013||Ivan Nova||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow soreness|
|April 26, 2013||Francisco Cervelli||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hand|
|April 22, 2013||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|April 12, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist contusion|
NEW YORK (AP) -- Hiroki Kuroda has become quite adept at turning a rough start into an impressive outing.
Kuroda settled in after a rocky start to pitch four-hit ball through seven innings, Travis Hafner had three RBI singles and the New York Yankees used small ball to beat the Houston Astros 7-4 on Tuesday night.
"You have to be pretty good to stick around to make it through those first three innings and then be good enough to give your team seven innings," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Jayson 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. New York took advantage of Phil Humber's four wild pitches and a couple of close calls at first base to score its first four runs without an extra-base hit.
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 in a good rhythm and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.
The right-hander gave up three runs in the first two innings Thursday against Toronto, then didn't allow another hit through the sixth.
At first he had trouble commanding his sinker and slider Tuesday night, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild recommended he work exclusively out of the stretch.
"In the early innings those pitches were useless," Kuroda said through a translator. "Today, like last outing, my balance was off, mechanically. My release point was off, too."
Kuroda won his fourth straight decision, matching a career best. He walked four for the second time this season.
Yankees reliever David Robertson gave up a two-run homer to Chris 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.
"You just see that his approach is good, and he's been great in that four-hole for us," Girardi said of Hafner. "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 Jose 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.
Ichiro 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.
Kevin Youkilis joined Derek Jeter , Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on the disabled list Tuesday because of a lumbar spine sprain. Despite all their injuries - and all the gloomy predictions that accompanied the loss of four All-Stars - the Yankees ended April 16-10 after losing four of their first five. They are in second place in the AL East behind the surprising Boston Red Sox.
"I'm pleased with the way these guys are playing," Girardi said. "They have done a very good job for us. It hasn't always been pretty but our guys have come up with clutch hits when we needed them."
Hafner thinks he knows why the retreads and no-names are having so much success: "They brought in really good dudes."
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 Carter grounded out. 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.
While Kuroda found his groove, Humber (0-6) looked spooked with runners on.
Humber 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, Suzuki had an infield hit and, after Pena made a fine stab behind first base on Robinson Cano 's sharp grounder, Hafner hit an opposite-field single to left for the first run.
"I think the whole thing was the leadoff walk in the first inning," Humber said. "I feel like I threw the ball well. I'm a little bit frustrated, but it's part of the game."
The Astros turned their fifth double play of the series and major league-leading 36th to end the threat.
Humber was lifted after the sixth trailing 4-0. The right-hander came in with 1.14 runs of support, the lowest in the majors among pitchers with five starts. He 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 your starter," Houston manager Bo Porter said.
NOTES: 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. ... Opponents are batting .318 against Kuroda in the first three innings and .092 after that.