Chicago (79-57) at Boston (73-64)

Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA, US
Temp: 46° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Sep 4, 2006
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Ozzie Guillen’s Chicago White Sox are visiting a far different Boston Red Sox club than in their last trip to Fenway Park for last year’s division series clincher.

Guillen hopes his White Sox will take advantage of the injury-plagued Red Sox Monday night when the teams begin a three-game series.

Boston (73-64) has been without sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez this past week in what has become a season full of injuries. The Red Sox were in strong contention with the White Sox (79-57) for the AL wild card until they went 9-21 in August.

“I feel for Tito (Boston manager Terry Francona),” Guillen said. “In the meanwhile, better them than me. It’s part of the game and I know Tito will handle it very well because he’s a strong man. And he’s man enough to deal with it, and the players, too.”

The Red Sox spent all of August without catcher Jason Varitek and right fielder Trot Nixon, who are both expected back in the lineup Monday. Varitek was out due to left knee problems and Nixon missed time with a right biceps strain.

“I’m just going to come back and we’re all going to work hard to do whatever we can to hopefully get in the postseason,” Nixon said. “I know a lot of people may laugh at that, but if you don’t have that kind of goal, that kind of drive, then we don’t even need to play in September then.”

The White Sox lead Minnesota by one-half game for the AL wild card. Boston is 6 1/2 games back.

Chicago won 5-3 in Game 3 of last year’s division series—its last game at Fenway Park—to eliminate the then-defending World Series champions. The contest was memorable for the relief effort by former Chicago pitcher Orlando Hernandez, who entered with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning and pitched out of the jam without allowing a run to preserve a 4-3 lead.

The White Sox will send their best starter to the mound in Jon Garland (16-4, 4.47 ERA), who is trying to become baseball’s first 17-game winner. He’s two wins shy of last year’s career-high total of 18.

Garland also boasts the most road wins in baseball, going 11-2 with a 4.88 ERA in 15 starts away from U.S. Cellular Field. He’s won 10 straight road outings, posting a 2.96 ERA in the process.

The right-hander is 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA in four career starts at Fenway Park.

Garland improved to 12-1 with a 3.09 ERA over his last 14 outings after allowing four runs and nine hits over eight innings in a 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay last Wednesday.

The White Sox are continuing a six-game road trip after losing two of three at Kansas City over the weekend. They struck out 20 times in the series with the Royals, including nine times in a 7-3 loss on Sunday.

“We can’t afford to lose that many series,” Guillen said. “Hopefully this is the last one. The guys we faced this weekend were pretty good. They kept our offense real quiet.”

Designated hitter Jim Thome homered and drove in two runs in his return to the lineup after missing six of the team’s previous eight games with a strained left hamstring. Thome is just 13-for-63 in his last 18 games at Fenway Park.

Julian Tavarez (2-4, 4.90) will make his second start of the year for Boston. He’s pitching on three days’ rest after he allowed three runs over three innings in a 6-4 victory over Toronto on Thursday.

The right-hander was making his first start since Sept. 17, 2002, with the Florida Marlins.

The Red Sox took two of three from the White Sox at Chicago from July 7-9, losing the finale 6-5 in 19 innings—the longest game in the majors this season.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Garland COL vs. J. Tavarez WAS
18-7 Record 5-4
4.51 ERA 4.47
112 K 56
41 BB 44
1.36 WHIP 1.56