Remember earlier this season when Brian McCann basically echoed the sentiments of many Yankees fans when he called himself horrible?

"It seems like that was a long, long time ago," McCann said Wednesday night.

Performances such as the one McCann had in the Yankees' 5-1 win against the Red Sox at the Stadium can only help his confidence.

McCann went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, including a key two-run homer to right in the second inning. The four hits tied a career high.

"I felt good," said McCann, who has 17 homers and 61 RBIs. "I felt I was working both sides of the plate, working counts and swinging at strikes. It's just good to contribute. We're at that point of the season where we need to win as many games as possible."

McCann, a seven-time all-star who signed a five-year, $85 million contract in the offseason, likely will have something to do with how many games the Yankees wind up winning in this final month.

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McCann has raised his average by 10 points in two days. The overall number (.244) still isn't pretty and is nearly 30 points lower than his career average (.273). Recent success has made McCann optimistic that he can continue to turn things around.

"I feel like I've put together a couple of good months," said McCann, whose .682 OPS is a career-low. " getting better and that's the plan. It's such a long season. It took me a little bit longer this year to get going with the bat than normal."

McCann was hit in the groin by a foul ball in the fourth inning and was tended to by Joe Girardi and assistant trainer Mark Littlefield. He was OK and then singled in the fifth inning.

McCann said he "hasn't tried to dissect" his early struggles. He did say that the defensive shift that is employed against him, which puts an infielder in short right, has affected him.

"That's the difference," McCann said. "Obviously that's my comfort zone to that side of the field. With the shift, it looks like there's 12 guys out there."

McCann beat the shift twice Wednesday night, not including his homer. First, he hit a line drive single to right in the sixth. Then with two outs in the seventh, he laced another line drive to right, his fourth hit, which scored Derek Jeter to make it 5-1.

"Stats are out the window at this point," McCann said. "It hasn't been the season offensively that I had hoped for, but at the same time we got a month to win games."