Winning streaks have been hard to come by as of late for both the New York Yankees and starter Phil Hughes.
The right-hander hopes to put together a string of victories on Thursday evening when the Yankees play the rubber match of a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees have gone 8-13 over their past 21 games and watched as a once 10- game advantage for first place in the AL East was erased. They are currently tied with the Baltimore Orioles for both the top spot in the division and second wild card spot in the AL, three games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for both spots.
New York dropped Tuesday's opener, but rebounded with a 5-4 victory on Wednesday. Robinson Cano homered and Curtis Granderson went deep twice, with his two-run shot in the seventh inning providing the winning margin.
Boston pulled within a run on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's solo homer in the ninth and had a runner on first with two outs, but Yankees closer Rafael Soriano finished off the four-out save by getting Jacoby Ellsbury on a grounder to end the game.
New York received a bit of a scare in the eighth inning when Derek Jeter was forced to exit the game following an attempt to beat out a double-play grounder, but the ailment isn't believed to be serious.
"It's not a big deal. I wanted to stay in the game," said Jeter, who is expected to play in the series finale despite a bone bruise in his left ankle that has been bothering the shortstop since last week.
Jeter is hitting .324 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI this season. He is likely to bat leadoff tonight as New York tries to win back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game winning streak from Aug. 13-15.
Hughes knows the feeling as he has alternated wins and losses over his past six outings. He'll try to win two straight tonight for the first time since July 27 and Aug. 1 after beating the Orioles on Friday.
The right-hander yielded three runs -- two earned -- on six hits over six innings of work, striking out five without a walk while holding a 7-0 lead at one point.
Hughes is 14-12 with a 4.13 earned run average in 28 starts this season and will face Boston for the fourth time in 2012. The 26-year-old is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in the previous three encounters.
The Red Sox counter with Felix Doubront, who hasn't won since July 18 while going 0-4 with an 8.27 ERA in seven starts since.
The 24-year-old southpaw has failed to log at least five innings in three of his last four outings and picked up his second straight losing start on Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays. He yielded five runs on six hits, two homers and a pair of walks over four frames.
Doubront is now 10-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 25 starts on the year and that includes a 1-0 mark and 2.41 ERA in three games versus the Yankees. He did give up just one run over 6 1/3 frames of a no-decision in the most recent meeting on July 29.
It is unknown if Boston, which has lost 12 of its last 14, will have second baseman Dustin Pedroia for this finale after he exited Wednesday's contest in the sixth inning after learning his wife had gone into labor.
The Yankees are 9-5 this season against Boston, going 6-2 in Beantown.