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08/31/10 10:59 PM ET

Rhythm has escaped Burnett all season

At long last, the Yankees are alone atop the American League East standings.

For the first time since Aug. 22, New York holds an advantage in one of baseball's best divisions. In order to pad their one-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees will have to rely on the recently unreliable A.J. Burnett.

After Burnett suffered through a brutal August with an 0-4 record and a 7.80 ERA, manager Joe Girardi has considered a break from the starting rotation for the 33-year-old right-hander, who sported a 2.43 ERA in April but hit rock bottom in June, when he went 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA.

"We'll watch him to see how he's throwing, and hopefully, he gets on a roll and pitches a really good game," Girardi said. "There won't be a sense of panic on our part. We're going to let the guy pitch; we need him to pitch."

Girardi has repeatedly expressed the Yankees' need for Burnett to pitch well, especially with left-hander Andy Pettitte sidelined due to a left groin strain for a couple of more weeks. Behind ace CC Sabathia and 16-game winner Phil Hughes, the Yankees don't boast too much depth in their rotation.

Whatever wind the A's had in their sails heading into their four-game set with the Yankees has since floated on. Two losses have sorely hurt Oakland's chances to catch up to the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West.

On Wednesday, A's lefty Brett Anderson will start for the first time since hyperextending his right knee on Friday in Texas. Anderson's injury, caused when he stepped in a hole created by opposing pitcher Tommy Hunter on the mound, forced the A's to remove the promising young lefty after just two innings.

Anderson, who has served a pair of lengthy stints on the disabled list this season, tossed a successful bullpen session on Monday.

"It went really well," A's manager Bob Geren said. "He should be good to go, no problems."

A's: Help on the way
Though Anderson will have no pitch-limit restrictions on Wednesday, Geren said that the A's will be adding some arms when rosters expand to 40 men on Wednesday. ... Late radio broadcaster Bill King has been nominated for the 2011 Ford C. Frick Award, a Hall of Fame distinction. ... Outfield prospect Michael Taylor is one of seven A's players who will participate in the Arizona Fall League.

Yankees: Vazquez getting stronger
Despite tossing 4 2/3 innings of effective relief for Dustin Moseley in Monday's series-opening 11-5 win, Javier Vazquez isn't being considered for a return to New York's starting rotation just yet.

"The last three or four times, [my fastball] has had more life," Vazquez said. "It's late movement. You can just feel that the ball has some at the end."

Worth noting
Pettitte is scheduled to throw another bullpen session before Wednesday's contest. ... Before long, New York is expected to add Lance Berkman to its roster. ... In his previous four starts before Friday's outing, Anderson went 1-2 with a 2.33 ERA. ... Burnett gave up at least six earned runs in three of his five August starts. ... The Yankees are 7-1 against the A's this season.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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