Joe Girardi talks with Russell Martin, Phil Hughes and Derek...

Joe Girardi talks with Russell Martin, Phil Hughes and Derek Jeter in the 10th inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. The Red Sox defeated the Yankees 3-2 in 10 innings. (Aug. 8, 2011) Credit: Getty

Joe Girardi didn't use the word "deflating," but he did call the way the series with the Red Sox ended "disappointing."

Still, given how the first nine 2011 games against Boston went, the weekend series at Fenway Park -- one in which the Yankees were a blown save away from taking two of three -- was a net positive.

"We pitched a lot better," Girardi said. "We made some adjustments and kept us in the games. I feel better about that."

The Red Sox, 10-2 against the Yankees this season, are baseball's highest-scoring team, and they mostly bludgeoned the Yankees in the first nine games, winning eight. The Yankees were outscored 60-37 in those games. Starter or reliever, it rarely mattered whom the Yankees put on the mound.

But other than CC Sabathia -- an exception that can't be overlooked after his 10-4 loss -- it was different over the weekend, with the relievers distinguishing themselves. "Our bullpen for the most part was really, really good in this series," Girardi said.

In Friday's 3-2 victory, Bartolo Colon was OK, allowing two runs and six hits in 42/3 innings. Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera shut out Boston in the remaining 41/3 innings, allowing two hits and no walks.

For the most part, the pitching again was outstanding in Sunday night's 3-2 loss in 10 innings. Freddy Garcia, torched in two previous starts against the Red Sox, allowed one run in five innings. Logan, Wade, Soriano and Robertson got a 2-1 lead to Rivera, who blew a save for the fifth time in 34 opportunities after allowing Marco Scutaro's leadoff double in the ninth. Phil Hughes, who had been Tuesday night's scheduled starter but was available to Girardi out of the bullpen for Sunday's game, lost it in the 10th.

For Rivera, the five blown saves match his total from last year, when he went 33-for-38. But his velocity has stayed steady -- in the low 90s -- and his ERA still sits at 1.87. "I feel good about Mo," Girardi said.

After saying "I can't blame anybody but myself" for the loss, Rivera said the Yankees' 5-2 record on the trip shouldn't be overshadowed. "I wouldn't call it disappointing or frustration. It happens, that's baseball," he said. "We just have to continue playing the way we've played; we've been doing great. Yeah, we lost the series, but we're going home and we have to keep playing good baseball."

Notes & quotes:Girardi set his rotation for the Angels series, going with A.J. Burnett Tuesday night, Ivan Nova tomorrow night and Bartolo Colon Thursday afternoon, which gives Sabathia an extra day of rest . . . Alex Rodriguez used the phrase "thumbs up" in describing his progress to The Associated Press Monday after a 57-pitch batting-practice session in Tampa that was moved indoors because of rain. It's not out of the question that A-Rod will make a rehab appearance by Friday and rejoin the team during next week's seven-game trip to Kansas City and Minnesota . . . The Yankees will do their due diligence on lefthanded reliever Arthur Rhodes, 41, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers early last week and who will become a free agent Wednesday. Rhodes was 3-3 with a 4.81 ERA in 32 games, but lefties were hitting just .216 with a .310 OBP against him . . . Lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero, 35, who was 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, asked the Yankees for his release, which was granted.

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