It may only be July, but the surging Bombers have thoughts of October in their minds. Having bolstered their roster with the completion of a six-player deal earlier in the afternoon, the Yankees have closed to within one game of the second-place Red Sox in the American League East.
"We're very fortunate that we were able to get a win and keep this going," said Pettitte, who limited Boston to three runs (one earned) over six innings. "We're rolling right now and throwing the ball well, and these trades are going to really help our team."
There were a couple of new faces in the clubhouse to witness the victory, as Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte both landed on a charter flight from Pittsburgh and appeared in the game. They had a front row seat to watch the Yankees do what they've done best lately -- putting forth good pitching and timely hitting.
New York took a lead facing knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the fourth inning, then blew the game open with four runs in the sixth off Wakefield and reliever Justin Masterson. With Pettitte struggling early to find his sharpness, Cano led off the fourth with his ninth home run -- and third since the All-Star break -- clubbing a 64-mph knuckleball over the center-field wall to tie the game.
Cano is now riding an eight-game hitting streak and has posted multiple hits in seven of eight games since the break.
"It's not only about what I'm doing, it's that we're winning games," Cano said. "We're doing the little things to win games. ... Everything's coming together right now."
The Yankees took the lead in the same inning, as Melky Cabrera legged out a bunt base hit, stole second base and then scored on Johnny Damon's single to center. Wakefield allowed another run in the sixth, loading the bases on a walk, double and hit by pitch before Damon beat out a fielder's choice to make it 4-2.
That ended Wakefield's afternoon, but Masterson allowed an RBI single to Derek Jeter after an eight-pitch at-bat, and an RBI double to Bobby Abreu, closing the line on Wakefield at six runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. Alex Rodriguez drove in the final run facing Masterson with a single to left.
"I just think a lot of it is luck," Rodriguez said. "We're getting some good pitches to hit and we're not missing them. Wake always pitches good games against us, too, so we're fortunate."
Pettitte hurled six strong innings after an A-Rod error opened the door for two unearned runs in the first inning. Rodriguez bobbled Dustin Pedroia's chopper to third base and Pettitte issued a walk to Kevin Youkilis, setting up David Ortiz's run-scoring single to right.
Manny Ramirez -- back in Boston's lineup after asking out on Friday -- then legged out a potential double-play grounder to bring home the second run.
J.D. Drew reached Pettitte for a solo home run, his 19th, with one out in the sixth inning, but Pettitte completed the inning to put the finishing touches on a 111-pitch performance.
"I really thought he grinded it out," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the veteran left-hander. "He wasn't sharp the first two innings. He had a walk in the first and a walk in the second. You don't see a lot of that from Andy. But then he seemed to find his rhythm and really got going."
Pettitte scattered five hits, walking three and striking out seven to defeat the Red Sox for the first time in two starts this season.
"I was able to mix it up enough to hang in there for six innings and give the team a chance to score some runs," Pettitte said. "I expect us to play well and I expect us to win. This is obviously what I expect us to do. We should be a good club. I think we should knock tough pitching around. We have those kinds of players."
In the eighth, Craig Hansen hit Rodriguez in the left elbow with a 98-mph fastball -- possible retaliation for Joba Chamberlain's continued incidents with Kevin Youkilis, as home-plate umpire Derryl Cousins warned both benches.
"It's part of the game," Rodriguez said. "It's not the last time I'll get hit. I'm just glad we won the game."
"We know how important Alex is to our club, and you worry about it when guys are getting plunked that high," Girardi said. "But you just move on. You've got to move on."
Hansen then walked in a run, issuing a free pass to Jason Giambi, and Cano followed with a two-run double off the wall in left to chase Hansen.
Batting seventh and playing left field in his Yankees debut, Nady went 0-for-3 with a run scored and a hit by pitch. Marte came out of the bullpen in the seventh inning and struck out Ortiz, the only batter he faced.
"That's why we got him," Girardi said. "We wanted to get him in the game, and I wasn't going to put him in a situation where it didn't mean anything."
The performances helped New York improve to a season-high 13 games over .500.
"Today was a big win for us," Rodriguez said. "We try to focus on the first game of every series, and we did a nice job last night. Tomorrow is the biggest game of the year for us. I think that's the attitude we've had the last couple of series and we need to keep that up."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.