NEW YORK -- Though there's not a whole lot wrong with the Yankees' offense these days -- see Wednesday's hitting clinic at the Stadium for reference -- that won't stop manager Joe Girardi from searching for improvement. Before Wednesday's game, he pegged Jason Giambi as perhaps the most likely source, explaining away his first baseman's recent woes with one reason that had nothing to do with approach.

"Bad luck," Girardi said. "That's kind of how it's been. He's lined out a bunch, but we're happy with his at-bats. He just needs to run into a little good luck."

Perhaps Girardi had a point. Giambi hit the ball hard on Wednesday just once, curling a potential home run ball inches foul down the left-field line. No matter. Later in that at-bat, he dropped a soft liner into shallow left field, and earlier in the game, he knocked a similar hit to right. All of that combined to raise his average 45 points, up to .139.

"I know this is such a results-oriented game," Giambi said. "At the end of the day, you want your hits. But it's nice to get a few to fall in there, and hopefully things will turn now."

If it was the start of Giambi's resurgence, Girardi will certainly take it -- and if not, the Yankees will still have to make do. They're not too picky about their offensive sources -- especially not against the Red Sox, and especially not in a Thursday night finale that could thrust them into sole possession of first place. To win that game and secure a two-game series sweep, the Yankees know they will need more than just offense.

"It all starts with starting pitching," Girardi said. "You look at Toronto and Boston, and they throw a good starter at you every night, and it's a different look every night. We have to continue to compete, and it starts with our starters, too."

Girardi's starter will be Mike Mussina, who, despite his strong start to the season, faltered a bit in his third outing of the year. Inconveniently, that one came against the Red Sox, though it also came with a caveat. Mussina will have a chance for a rematch against Sox starter Josh Beckett on Thursday, and an opportunity for a bit of revenge.

Not that he or the rest of the Yankees will be thinking about it. They just want a win.

"I think once the games get going on, it's business as usual," Girardi said. "You still have to make the plays, you have to get the big hits, you have to make the pitches. But there's always a heightened awareness when it's Yankees-Red Sox."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Mike Mussina (1-2, 4.15 ERA)
Mussina's previous outing against the Red Sox will be remembered almost exclusively for his decision in the sixth inning, when he opted to pitch to Manny Ramirez instead of Kevin Youkilis with first base open. Mussina allowed a two-run double up the gap that helped the Red Sox post a 4-3 victory over the Yankees. Still, he has been consistent this season, lasting five innings or more in seven consecutive starts dating back to Sept. 12. Over that stretch, he is 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA, allowing 17 earned runs in 42 innings.

BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (1-1, 6.35 ERA)
Beckett proved last weekend that his back woes are finally over. In a 4-3 victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park on Saturday, Beckett gave up five hits and three runs over 6 2/3 innings, walking one and striking out five. In his career at Yankee Stadium, Beckett is 2-2 with a 6.86 ERA. However, those numbers don't include the gem that he pitched against New York in Game 6 of the 2003 World Series, when Beckett was a member of the Marlins. In his first two starts, Beckett has limited opponents to a .200 average.

Tidbits
Girardi said that he would consider reconfiguring his rotation next week to slot lefty Andy Pettitte in between young right-handers Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. ... With his fourth home run on Wednesday, Alex Rodriguez moved past Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for sole possession of 15th place on baseball's all-time list at 522. ... Robinson Cano holds a .429 lifetime average off Beckett in 21 at-bats. ... After last weekend's two-run double, Ramirez has now driven in 21 runs off Mussina in 98 career at-bats.

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Up next
• Friday: Yankees (Phil Hughes, 0-2, 9.00) at Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 0-0, 5.94), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 0-1, 8.74) at Orioles (Brian Burres, 1-1, 5.40), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 2-1, 3.38) at Orioles (TBD), 1:35 p.m. ET