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08/23/08 2:13 AM ET

Yankees need solid return from Pavano

New York (68-60) at Baltimore (61-66), Saturday, 7:05 p.m. ET

BALTIMORE -- On Friday, for the first time in seven tries, the Yankees won the opening game of a series. Now they send Carl Pavano to the hill for the first time since April 9, 2007, with the hope of coming out of Saturday's game with the same result.

And if Pavano can be the pitcher the Yankees assumed they were getting when they signed him to a four-year, $39.95 million deal, it couldn't come at a better time. At this point, the Yankees need every quality start they can get to help lead them to wins, as they sit six games behind the Red Sox in the American League Wild Card race and 10 1/2 games behind the Rays in the AL East.

After notching a comeback victory over the Orioles on Friday night, the optimism was high in the Yankees' clubhouse.

"To win a game the way we did tonight, obviously, you have to feel good about it," said manager Joe Girardi. "You have to feel good about going into tomorrow. It's a big start for Pav tomorrow, and we understand that, but we're swinging the bats good, and we just have to keep it going."

For his part, Pavano said on Friday that he doesn't expect to look like a spot starter on the mound.

"I expect to go out and compete," Pavano said. "Definitely be aggressive. My command, I feel, has been really good, and [I can] go out there and throw strikes. That's how I've done it in the past, and I feel like just because I've gone through this surgery and gone through some setbacks in the past, it's all in the past, and I'm just going to try to step in where I left off.

"My command has progressively gotten better, and my strength has progressively gotten better. Nothing came real quick, but everything's come as expected. I've come into Spring Training with [what] I have now, to tell you the truth."

Pavano, who underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on June 5, 2007, has had a litany of injuries during his four-year stint in New York. But with just five weeks left in the regular season, he can attempt to turn over a new leaf in pinstripes on Saturday. If he can be the bandage that the Yankees need in the starting rotation, he could potentially be the catalyst to more prolonged success for this team.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Carl Pavano (2008 debut)
Pavano has appeared in just 19 games with New York since signing with the club, including two starts last April in which he went 1-0 before he was shut down for the season.

BAL: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (10-9, 3.15 ERA)
Guthrie did not get the win for the first time in four starts his last time out, an eventual 6-3 loss to the Red Sox on Monday, but he did not pitch poorly, and he walked away with a no-decision. He struggled in the second inning -- allowing two solo homers in the frame -- but was able to pull himself together and get through seven for his 19th quality start of the season. He now leads the league in that category and has given up just six runs in his last five starts. He is 1-1 this season against the Yankees, allowing three earned runs in the loss and just one in the victory.

Cody Ransom hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning on Friday night and now has two home runs in two at-bats in a Yankees uniform. ... The Yankees hit back-to-back homers for the eighth and ninth times this season on Friday, when Robinson Cano and Jose Molina doubled up in the fifth inning and Ransom and Xavier Nady did so again in the ninth. ... Bobby Abreu tied his career high with five hits on Friday. The last time he had five hits in a game was on Aug. 8, 1999, against the Diamondbacks, while he was with the Phillies.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Yankees (Darrell Rasner, 5-9, 4.93) at Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 8-8, 4.98), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 13-9, 4.17) vs. Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 11-9, 4.34), 7:05 p.m. ET

Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.