It's not very often that the New York Yankees get a helping hand from the Boston Red Sox.
Boston's decision to re-insert Brandon Workman into the rotation may qualify as such a moment, albeit an unintentional one.
Workman is back in the big leagues and he has lost seven straight starts entering this one Thursday night on the road.
New York (71-66) evened this three-game series with a 5-1 victory Wednesday to end a three-game slide and move within four games of Detroit for the AL's second wild card spot. This series opens a nine-game homestand.
"We needed one badly, we had lost three in a row," manager Joe Girardi said. "As I said, this is a very important homestand. We need to win a lot of games."
The Yankees can't afford to drop a third straight series and have to like their chances of getting to Workman (1-8, 4.93 ERA), who was called up Wednesday.
The right-hander last pitched in the big leagues Aug. 23, giving up seven runs over 3 1-3 innings in a 7-3 defeat to Seattle. He lost his eighth straight decision and his ERA rose to 6.52 during his seven-start winless streak.
"I haven't been as consistent as I've liked to be but I have thrown the ball well," he said. "At points (in) different games this year the consistency hadn't been there this year like I would have liked it to be but I still feel that I'm fully capable of doing the job that I need to do on the mound."
Workman's winless stretch began when he surrendered four runs over seven innings June 27 in a 6-0 loss at Yankee Stadium in his only career start against New York.
An underachieving player he will likely face is Brian McCann, who went 4 for 4 with three RBIs and homered in his second straight game Wednesday. McCann is 6 for 8 in this series after entering it with one multihit effort in his previous 22 games.
''It took me longer to get going with the bat than normal,'' said McCann, who has faced numerous shifts by the Red Sox in the first two games. ''I haven't tried to dissect it.''
The Yankees' Martin Prado is expected to miss a second straight game with a mild strain of his left hamstring suffered in Tuesday's 9-4 defeat.
Boston (61-78) fell for the fourth time in its last 12 road games with David Ortiz going 0 for 4 for the second straight night. He's batting .196 against New York this season.
The Red Sox will see a familiar face in Yankees starter Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.24), who began the season with them by posting a 4.55 ERA in 28 relief appearances. Boston released him July 1 and he signed a minor league deal with Colorado but never pitched for the Rockies before New York acquired him July 24.
The Massachusetts-born Capuano faced his former team Aug. 1, yielding four runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 4-3 defeat. He finally earned his first win in seven starts with the Yankees by limiting Toronto to three runs over 6 1-3 innings in Friday's 6-3 road victory.
Boston's Allen Craig is 8 for 14 off Capuano but he's hitless in his last 13 at-bats, striking out all four times up Wednesday.