The last time the Yankees and Red Sox tangled tempers erupted Alex Rodriguez got plunked and then hit a dramatic home run and the Yanks iced one of their best wins of the season.

Now the bitter rivals tangle again in a four-game series beginning Thursday in the Bronx that should have implications in the American League wild-card chase and perhaps the AL East race. What do the teams do for an encore?

We’ll see. But from what several Yankees said Wednesday before they finished off a three-game sweep of the White Sox with a 6-5 victory at the Stadium their playoff run takes precedence over any potential retaliation for Ryan Dempster drilling A-Rod last month at Fenway.

“Look there’s no doubt the guy was throwing at Alex that’s the bottom line” said Andy Pettitte who is starting the second game of the series Friday night. “But we can’t worry about that. We’ve got to worry about winning ballgames right now.”

Asked if he thought retaliation would play a role in the series Pettitte said “I haven’t gone around and polled all the players you know what I’m saying? So I can’t tell you what somebody else might be thinking. But I’m going to go out and try to win a ballgame and pitch and I’m not worried about anything else other than that.”

After beating the White Sox thanks in large part to a four-out save by Mariano Rivera and a decent start by the struggling CC Sabathia the Yankees are eight games behind the Red Sox in the division. They also are 2.5 games behind the Rays in the race for the AL’s second wild card.

While the wild card seems like the Yanks’ more likely path to the postseason David Robertson only moments after one of his worst outings of the season said he thinks the club still has a shot at the division.

“Obviously” said Robertson who gave up two runs and also allowed two inherited runners to score. “We still have a chance. We’ve got seven games left against Boston. If we can somehow win all seven you’re right there. There’s still hope.”