Sox out to bounce back against Rays

Red Sox look to bounce back against Rays

The Red Sox aim to rebound from a disappointing series loss to the Yankees when they open a four-game series with the Devil Rays at Fenway Park.

Boston looks to right-hander Josh Beckett, who is hoping to match teammate Curt Schilling for the team lead in wins (seven), while Tampa Bay counters with right-hander Doug Waechter.

Beckett won't have the chance to duplicate the rare feat he accomplished in his last start. He became the first Sox pitcher to homer since 1972, helping his own cause last Saturday in an 8-4 Interleague win over the Phillies in Philadelphia.

The Red Sox don't need his bat as much as they need his arm.

"He throws the ball 95 mph," said Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "That's the best thing about Josh Beckett. He's amazing. He likes to go out there and pitch. He wants to have the ball in his hand. Those are the kind of guys you like to play behind."

Tampa Bay comes to town having split the first six games with Boston this season, including a series win over the Sox at Tropicana Field on April 28-30.

"The Devil Rays are tough," Youkilis added. "They've got a good group of players who are playing hard. These guys, they don't care who they face. Yankees, Red Sox, they don't care who they face. They go out and play hard. They have a good manager who allows them to do that."

After dropping two of three to the Yankees, the Red Sox lead in the American League East is down to a half-game over New York.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (6-1, 4.19 ERA)
Beckett was masterful with his fastball in his last start, leading the Red Sox to a win over the Phillies. He struck out just four, but kept Philadelphia hitters at bay until an eighth inning three-run home run by Ryan Howard. Finishing the seventh inning is nothing new for him -- he's done it in seven of his nine starts. Beckett has not faced the Devil Rays in either of the two series between the teams this year.

TB: RHP Doug Waechter (0-2, 6.63 ERA)
Waechter made his first start out of the bullpen on Saturday after missing a turn in the rotation because of an off-day. He allowed three runs over six innings on six Marlins hits, walking three and striking out two. It was a big improvement from his last outing, in which he allowed seven runs on 11 hits over seven innings in his longest outing of the year. Waechter lasted just 2 2/3 innings at Boston on April 19, surrendering seven runs (six earned) on five hits and three walks for his first loss of the season. He owns a 1-2 career record with a 6.27 ERA against Boston.

Player to watch
Mark Loretta extending his season-best hitting streak to nine games Wednesday, matching the team high this year shared by Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek. Loretta is now hitting 15-for-37 (.405) during the tear and is now batting .301 on the season.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WEEI 850 AM, WROL 950 AM (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Red Sox (LHP David Wells, 0-1, 15.75 ERA) vs. Devil Rays (LHP Scott Kazmir, 7-2, 2.39 ERA), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 7-2, 3.80 ERA) vs. Devil Rays (RHP Seth McClung, 2-5, 5.72 ERA), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 3-6, 4.57 ERA) vs. Devil Rays (LHP Mark Hendrickson, 0-2, 6.63 ERA), 2:05 p.m. ET

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