Tavarez set to face White Sox

Tavarez slides back in to Red Sox's rotation

The Red Sox, in desperate need of a spark, have a direct chance to chip away at the 6 1/2-game deficit they are staring at in the Wild Card standings. The White Sox, who lead the Wild Card race, will be at Fenway for three games, starting with Monday's contest.

With Curt Schilling temporarily out of the mix with a strained lat muscle, the Red Sox will hand the ball to reliever Julian Tavarez. It will be the second start of the season for Tavarez, who filled in after David Wells was traded on Thursday.

"It makes me feel special, because they're handing the ball to me," Tavarez said. "I really appreciate that. Hopefully, I can go out there and can make it out there through the fifth or sixth inning. I'm going to go out there and have some fun and try to make pitches."

The Red Sox should have a semi-healthy starting lineup for the first time in weeks. Alex Gonzalez and Wily Mo Pena returned on Sunday. Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek will be back in there Monday, and there's also a chance that superstar slugger Manny Ramirez will be back in the cleanup spot for the first time since Aug. 26.

"We haven't given up," said Tavarez. "This is baseball. There's no tricks in baseball. We're 6 1/2 [games] away from the Wild Card. I believe we can show everybody that we can do it. This is baseball. Things could change tomorrow."

The Red Sox will face a tough opponent in the defending World Series champion White Sox, who send red-hot righty Jon Garland to the mound.

One thing Boston hopes to do in this series is generate more offense. In their last 14 games, the Sox are batting .194 and have averaged 1.9 runs per game.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Julian Tavarez (2-4, 4.90 ERA)
On Thursday, Tavarez gave up five hits and three runs over three innings. It was Tavarez's first start of the season and 80th in his career. Tavarez has good history against the White Sox this season, as he fired four innings of shutout relief against them in a 19-inning game on July 9.

CWS: RHP Jon Garland (16-4, 4.47 ERA)
Garland looked like he was going to break his three-start winning streak before the White Sox rallied in the bottom of the eighth to make him baseball's second 16-game winner. He struggled early against the Rays, as his fastball stayed up in the zone. He gave up three runs in the first, but gave Chicago eight innings, a boon to its bullpen.

Player to watch
The Red Sox would love to get Ramirez back for this one, as he is 8-for-15 lifetime against Garland with two doubles and two homers.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

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

Up next
• Tuesday: Red Sox (LHP Kason Gabbard, 0-3, 6.35) vs. White Sox (RHP Javier Vazquez, 11-8, 4.98), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 4-3, 5.94) vs. White Sox (RHP Jose Contreras, 11-7, 4.23), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 14-10, 5.11) vs. Royals (LHP Odalis Perez, 5-7, 6.43), 7:05 p.m. ET

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