From the first pitch, Hiroki Kuroda didn’t look right.

His command and accuracy weren’t there. Nor was his sinker, or the quickness dealing with hitters.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t think Kuroda threw a good slider until the end of the third inning. For the first two frames tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays, Kuroda was a laboring pitcher. One who was fighting to get through every pitch and every hitter.

And it turned out to be, in Girardi’s estimation, one of the best starts he’s seen from Kuroda.

"He really didn’t have a whole lot tonight," Girardi said.

But Kuroda had enough. And for the Yankees, in a 5-3 victory, that was plenty.

After allowing six hits and three runs to the first 12 hitters he faced, Kuroda (3-1) looked like it was going to be an early night. Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie smacked home runs, and with the Yankees struggling to find offense, a run of three losses in four games began to look like four in five.

Only Kuroda finally snapped out of his funk by the third inning.

From there on out, it was vintage Kuroda: Six innings, six hits (none after the second inning) and three runs allowed. Not bad for a guy who had nothing when the night began.

"Early on, I gave up a lot of hits and I wasn’t really good," Kuroda said through his interpreter. "But after the second inning, I was able to regroup."

Beginning in the third, and continuing until he exited following the sixth inning, Kuroda retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced. The only blemish? A fielding error by first baseman Lyle Overbay, which allowed Toronto second baseman Maicer Izturis to get on board. That was it. And while he finally began to click into form, Kuroda’s offense arrived at just the right time.

Three Yankee home runs — including a three-run shot by Robinson Cano in the third inning — helped overcome the early deficit and chase starter Mark Buehrle (L, 1-1). in the sixth.