Sox need to make up Wild Card ground

White Sox need to make up Wild Card ground

Talk of the poor, put-upon, injury-depleted Red Sox certainly didn't convince manager Ozzie Guillen that his team was in for three easy games this week at Fenway Park. And Guillen was not the least bit surprised by the return of Manny Ramirez, Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon for Monday's series opener.

"Banged up? That's an excuse," said Guillen with the hint of a smile following Monday's 3-2 loss in 10 innings to Boston. "They all played against us today.

"That's a pretty good excuse by the Red Sox, and they are pretty good without them. But I never thought [starter Julian] Tavarez would pitch that well. Everything about this game is about pitching, and if you pitch well, you have a chance to win."

The Red Sox would like to get the same surprise quality start on Tuesday night from left-handed rookie Kason Gabbard, weather permitting. The White Sox send Javier Vazquez to the mound in search of ending a two-game losing streak.

Vazquez is 0-2 with a 4.13 ERA in his last four starts, but he pitched well enough to win last Thursday against Tampa Bay. The right-hander allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings in that no-decision.

With Jermaine Dye on the shelf because of back spasms for at least Tuesday's contest, Guillen spoke of giving rookie Ryan Sweeney his first Major League start in right field and his first at-bat. The White Sox, as a team, need to pick up the slack in Dye's absence and produce more consistent offense from start to finish -- something that has been missing from their attack during four losses in the last five games to the Devil Rays, Royals and Red Sox.

"We are [not] going to lose this thing," said Guillen after Monday's setback. "You have to keep playing hard and keep playing right. The guys starting the games have been slowing us down over the past three or four days. That's our problem right now."

Pitching matchup
CWS: RHP Javier Vazquez (11-8, 4.98 ERA)
Vazquez pitched well in his last outing, giving up two runs on seven hits and three walks. He was in trouble much of the day, but held Devil Rays hitters to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. He was in line for his first win since Aug. 10, but the White Sox let a one-run lead get away in the eighth inning.

BOS: LHP Kason Gabbard (0-3, 6.35 ERA)
Gabbard will make his third start of the season. The rookie left-hander suffered a loss in his last outing, against the A's, giving up six hits and five runs over 3 1/3 innings. This will be his first career appearance at Fenway Park.

Player to watch
Mike Lowell ran into Vazquez quite a few times when both played in the National League, and Lowell has fared well against the right-hander, with a .324 lifetime average, two home runs and six RBIs.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• CSN Chicago

On radio
• WSCR 670-AM

Up next
• Wednesday: White Sox (RHP Jose Contreras, 11-7, 4.23) at Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 4-3, 5.94), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Indians (LHP Cliff Lee, 11-10, 4.63) at White Sox (LHP Mark Buehrle, 12-11, 4.71), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Indians (RHP Fausto Carmona, 1-8, 5.76) at White Sox (RHP Freddy Garcia, 13-9, 5.10), 7:35 p.m. CT

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.