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CLE@NYY: Burnett strikes out eight over 7 2/3 innings

When the Yankees left the Bronx for their current seven-game road trip, they did so knowing they faced an important week of games. Two days into the trip, New York could not have asked for a better start. CC Sabathia earned his Major League-leading 16th win on Monday and Phil Hughes bounced back with six shutout innings, four strikeouts and zero walks in Tuesday's rain-shortened victory.

On Wednesday, manager Joe Girardi will hand the ball to A.J. Burnett, hoping to see the right-hander earn his first victory since June 29. Since then, Burnett has dropped three straight decisions over five outings and has allowed 17 earned runs in 31 2/3 innings. Pitching away from Yankee Stadium is of marginal difference for Burnett, who is 2-3 with a 4.34 ERA on the road but 6-6 with a 4.17 ERA at home.

However, the Yankees, who have now won five games in a row, have established some early momentum on their current road trip. With two more games in Chicago before they head to Boston, a strong start was imperative. Yet Derek Jeter was quick to point out that success against a quality opponent is necessary regardless of location.

"It's not ideal," Jeter said. "We do enjoy playing at home, but if you're going to be a good team, you have to play well on the road, too. So I really don't think it makes much of a difference, whether you're at home or on the road. You play well, you're going to win regardless of where you are."

One tricky element Girardi will have to manage is a thin bench. As the Yankees test out a six-man rotation, Girardi is left with just three-man bench that has limited his options and left him hoping his roster does not incur any more injuries.

"Obviously, you can't make as many moves, and you have to be a little bit more careful when you do make those moves, especially when your starting shortstop gets his finger banged up in the fourth inning and your normal second baseman is the DH," Girardi said. "It's a little trickier, but you know it going in, so it's not that bad."

It will be up to Gavin Floyd to cool off the Yankees and help the White Sox snap their four-game losing streak. Chicago has watched its deficit in the AL Central increase to 5 1/2 games but will turn to the guy who may be best suited to end the club's recent funk.

Floyd, who headed into the All-Star break having dropped four consecutive decisions, has been one of the hottest pitchers in the second half. Floyd has won all three of his starts since the break, allowing just two earned runs and 13 hits over 21 2/3 innings. He has struck out 16 and walked three in those starts.

"The past couple of games, I've just been trying to keep the same mindset and go into the game just trying to focus on each pitch and try to keep us in the game," Floyd said after his victory over the Red Sox last Friday.

"Hopefully, he carries it over," added White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "I think this kid -- in 2008, when we had the run -- he was good. We expect that. I think he had a great outing, and he gave the team an opportunity to go out there and compete. I'm glad he turned the tables around really quick, and hopefully he can finish it up strong."

Floyd is 2-1 with a 3.99 ERA in his career against the Yankees, including a victory in New York on April 26, when he allowed two earned runs over eight innings with a season-high 10 strikeouts.

Yankees: Jeter shows no effects of injury
• Jeter, who appeared in just 11 games in June, has shown no ill effects of his right calf strain, and it doesn't appear his bruised right middle finger is giving him much trouble, either. After sitting out Monday's series opener, Jeter went 2-for-4 on Tuesday, striking the ball well in three of his at-bats. That's a good sign for the Yankees, as Jeter has been at his best this season since returning from the disabled list in early July. The Captain hit a monthly season high of .292 (26-for-89) in July with two home runs and 16 RBIs -- also a season high for any month. Jeter is hitting .324 (12-for-37) with one home run and 11 RBIs over his last 10 games.

White Sox: Konerko again absent from lineup
• Paul Konerko sat out on Tuesday for the second time in as many games. The White Sox first baseman acknowledged that his left knee is still tender after it was struck by a fastball from Boston's Andrew Miller on Sunday. Konerko is suffering from some weakness in his knee because the pitch struck a nerve in the area, limiting his ability to put proper weight on his leg.

"I never really have been hit where I got hit or as hard as I got hit -- it was pretty good," Konerko said standing in front of his locker following White Sox batting practice. "It's really weak, really stiff. We're just trying to get as much treatment as we can throughout the day and hopefully get as much out of it."

"I don't want to push it," Guillen added. "If he moves forward the way he did from yesterday until today, he might get a shot."

There is still no timetable for Konerko's return.

Worth noting
• With his eight-inning effort in Monday's series opener, CC Sabathia became the first Yankee since Jack McDowell in 1995 to last seven innings in 10 consecutive starts. He is also the only pitcher in the AL this season to accomplish the streak.

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