Hiroki Kuroda has only been a Yankee for one season, but he's already become accustomed to late-game drama.

So even though he left yesterday's 3-0 ALCS Game 2 loss down by a run and quickly saw the deficit balloon to three runs, he still held out hope.

"I tried to stay patient, hoping something good would come out like [Saturday] night's game," Kuroda said through a translator, referring to the Yankees' four-run ninth that forced extra innings in Game 1. "But it was tough out there and it didn't happen."

Kuroda could have also looked back to his previous outing, when he was in position to get the loss despite pitching well before Raul Ibanez homered in the ninth and 12th innings to beat the Orioles in Game 3 of the ALDS.

Yesterday, there were no late-game fireworks.

Pitching on short rest for the first time in his career, Kuroda was brilliant for much of his 7 2/3 innings. He retired the first 15 batters he faced, leading Russell Martin to say: "For a while there, I thought he would throw a no-hitter, but he had great command and good composure."

But Kuroda couldn't drive in any runs for himself or make a correct call at second base.

It wasn't until the seventh that he first found trouble. Quintin Berry started the inning with a ground-rule double and moved to third on Miguel Cabrera's single to right. Kuroda recovered to strike out Prince Fielder. Mark Teixeira was then unable to come up with a foul pop in the stands down the first base line and Jayson Nix and Robinson Cano couldn't turn a grounder to short into an inning-ending double play as Berry scored the game's first run.