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TOR@NYY: Hughes hurls seven frames of one-run ball

Not only will the Yankees be looking for a series victory in Thursday's finale vs. the Red Sox, but they'll also be looking to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month.

New York hasn't won back-to-back contests since winning three straight against the Rangers from Aug. 13-15. Even with the recent slump, the Yankees remain tied with the Orioles atop the American League East.

The Yankees have maintained at least a share of first place every day since June 11. In the past nine days, though, they've fallen into a tie with the Orioles four separate times after having been alone in first place since June 12.

The Bombers will look to remain atop the division Thursday when they send Phil Hughes to the mound for the series finale.

"We need to play well down the stretch if we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We haven't been able to get on a roll and we haven't been consistent."

The Red Sox, meanwhile, will counter with Felix Doubront as they attempt to play the role of spoiler against the rival Yankees -- and this might not be their last opportunity to do so.

Along with Thursday's finale at Fenway Park, the Red Sox will travel to the Bronx to close out their season with a three-game set from Oct. 1-3. Though the Yankees hope to have secured a playoff berth by then, Boston could ultimately have a lot to say about the AL East champion despite being out of contention.

"They have a lot of pride," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said after the Red Sox won the series opener. "They've got guys on the team that have pride in how you play the game, so I'm sure they would like to do that. When you're competing, you want to win. I don't care where you are in the standings -- especially when it's Red Sox-Yankees. Guys want to play well."

Yankees: Jeter expected to play Thursday
• Despite leaving Wednesday's 5-4 win early after aggravating an existing left ankle injury, Derek Jeter is expected to try to play in Thursday's finale, according to Girardi.

Jeter left the game after trying to beat out a double-play ball in the eighth inning. He suffered a bone bruise in his left ankle.

• Ivan Nova is scheduled to rejoin the Yankees rotation this weekend, and fellow starter Andy Pettitte might not be far behind.

Pettitte, sidelined since fracturing his left ankle on June 27, threw 55 pitches in a simulated game at Fenway Park on Wednesday and said he's ready to return. The left-hander will be seen by a team physician Friday in New York and, depending how that goes, he could start next Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

"It's a discussion that we'll have to have as a group," said Girardi, who will consult with team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad, head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and general manager Brian Cashman. "I thought he threw pretty well [Wednesday]. He covered the bases, fielded some bunts and did the things that he had to do."

Red Sox: Saltalamacchia impresses in return
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia returned to the Red Sox lineup with a bang on Wednesday, falling just a single shy of the cycle.

After missing three games with back spasms, Saltalamacchia went 3-for-3 with a double, triple, home run and a walk in his return.

"It's better than it was [Tuesday]," Saltalamacchia said before legging out his first triple of the season in Wednesday's loss. "The doc said the other day he doesn't see it regressing at all if I go out and play. I've just got to keep it loose. It feels better, so I'm going to go with it."

• Reliever Scott Atchison was activated off the 60-day disabled list Wednesday after missing two months with a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.

"When they said he might not pitch again [this season], I looked in his eyes, and he said, 'No, I'm going to pitch. This is easy,'" said manager Bobby Valentine. "He researched a little, found out that some other people had the same injury as he did and came back and pitched. He went down and shut people out in the Minor Leagues, and now he's back in the big leagues. It's a credit to him as a person, as well as him as a pitcher. He's special."

Worth noting
• Hughes is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against Boston this year after going 0-2 with a 14.63 ERA in three appearances (two starts) against the Red Sox in 2011.

• Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is hitless in 11 career plate appearances against Doubront.

• Doubront hasn't turned in a quality start since July 29 and hasn't recorded a victory since July 18.

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