Red Sox look to finish sweep

Red Sox look to finish sweep

Back to the rotation he goes. Julian Tavarez will start against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon, seven days after seemingly pitching his way back into the Red Sox's plans.

As usual, things aren't quite so simple. Days before the Sept. 1 expansion of Major League active rosters from 25 to 40, they never are.

On Aug. 19 against the Angels, Tavarez threw six innings of two-hit ball, allowing two first-inning runs. It was his first spot start in nearly three weeks.

"To me, I feel good," Tavarez said. "I gave the team a chance to win the game."

Two days later, Jon Lester had his worst start of the year, against Tampa Bay, yielding nine baserunners and two home runs in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-6 win.

On Thursday, Lester was optioned to Double-A Portland instead of Triple-A Pawtucket, in order to keep his regular pitching day. He will return to the Majors on Sept. 1, when the active rosters expand.

The Red Sox called up lefty specialist Javier Lopez, who they planned to deploy against the left-handed bats of the White Sox and Yankees this weekend and next week. He took Lester's spot.

Needing a rotation replacement in the interim, the Red Sox already had one in Tavarez. Javier Vazquez, quietly enjoying his best season since he first moved to the American League from Montreal after the 2003 season, will go for the White Sox.

Pitching matchup
RHP Julian Tavarez (6-9, 5.01 ERA)
Not since 2003 as a Montreal Expo has Vazquez held runners off the basepaths like this. In every year since posting a 3.24 ERA and .229 opponents' batting average in 230 2/3 innings, Vazquez has been unable to hold opponents to less than 4.42 earned runs per nine innings. This year, thanks to a .237 opponents' batting average, Vazquez's ERA has shrunk to 3.66. Boasting an 11-6 record for the last-place White Sox, Vazquez is on pace for his greatest number of wins since 2001.

CWS: RHP Javier Vazquez (11-6, 3.66 ERA)
Not since 2003 as a Montreal Expo has Javier Vazquez held runners off the basepaths like this. In every year since posting a 3.24 ERA and .229 opponents' batting average in 230 2/3 innings, Vazquez has failed to hold opponents to less than 4.42 earned runs per nine innings. This year, thanks to a .237 opponents' batting average (in 202 2/3 innings last year, he allowed 206 hits for a .259 average), Vazquez's ERA has shrunk to 3.66. Boasting an 11-6 record for the last-place White Sox, Vazquez is on pace for his greatest number of wins since 2001.

Player to watch
Outfielder J.D. Drew hasn't been fooled by Vazquez's hard stuff in 23 career at-bats, mostly as a Los Angeles Dodger and Atlanta Brave. He is batting .391 (9-for-23), with a .440 on-base percentage and a .870 slugging percentage, with three home runs and two doubles.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, WROL (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 13-10, 3.76) at Yankees (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 16-5, 3.21) at Yankees (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.