Red Sox getting uncomfortably close to Yanks

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SEATTLE - The week ahead has a very different look than it did just over a week ago. The Yankees, who led the Red Sox by nine games Sept. 10, start a three-game series in Anaheim Monday night with a five-game lead - four in the loss column. After an off day Thursday, it's on to a three-game series against the Red Sox at the Stadium.

"We have not played very well the last eight or nine games. We've been somewhat inconsistent," said Joe Girardi, whose team has gone 4-5, including yesterday's 7-1 loss to Seattle.

"Lately we've been losing some close ones, and it seems like no one else is trying to beat Boston," Johnny Damon said with a smile. The Red Sox have won 10 of 11 and begin a four-game series in Kansas City tonight.

Monday night Andy Pettitte will test the "achy" left shoulder that got him bumped from his scheduled start last Wednesday. Chad Gaudin goes Tuesday night and A.J. Burnett on Wednesday. "These are important games this week, we know that," Girardi said. "As I've said all along, I think this thing is going to go down to the end. No one's going to hand you anything and you have to go out and earn it. That's what we have to do this week."

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Extra bases

Besides a little red mark, there was no obvious damage left by the line drive that hit CC Sabathia in the chest Saturday night. "No bruise or anything," he said . . . Girardi held Nick Swisher out of the lineup. "His leg's been a little sore, nothing serious," he said. "Swish plays hard, he dives, he runs into things. But as far as anything major, no. He's just a little beat up." . . . Asked if Gaudin has supplanted Sergio Mitre as the No. 5 starter, Girardi said, "I guess you could say that." That was before Mitre allowed one hit in five innings of relief . . . Girardi watched David Robertson throw and said he was "letting it go. I really liked what I saw."

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