Josh Beckett looks to get the Red Sox back to .5 games out of first place.

Josh Beckett looks to get the Red Sox back to a ½ game out of first place in the AL East.

After a failed opportunity to take over first place in the AL East last night, the Boston Red Sox will try to take the series from the Tampa Bay Rays and head into their off day tomorrow sitting .5 games back.

That task belongs to the best big game pitcher the Red Sox have right now in Josh Beckett. Josh Baseball has faced the Rays 3 times this season and is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA. In his career, he’s made 8 starts and is 5-3 with a 3.59 ERA. In 5 starts vs the Rays since ’07, is 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA (10 ER/33.0 IP) and a 40/5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Andy Sonnanstine starts for the Rays tonight and leads them with 13 wins. He has not faced the Red Sox this season but has made 4 starts and is 1-1 with an 8.85 ERA.

The Red Sox will have another body in the bullpen as David Aardsma has been activated from the disabled list. He threw a perfect inning last night, including two strikeouts for the Lowell Spinners.

Joe McDonald of the ProJo has some notes about J.D. Drew.

Lineups and batter/pitcher matchups after the jump.

Tampa Bay Rays 86-57

1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. Dan Johnson, LF
3. Carlos Pena, 1B
4. Cliff Floyd, DH
5. Willy Aybar, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, RF
7. Dioner Navarro, C
8. Gabe Gross, CF
9. Jason Bartlett, SS

– Andy Sonnanstine, SP

Red Sox 85-59

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Mike Lowell, 3B
7. Mark Kotsay, RF
8. Jed Lowrie, SS
9. Jason Varitek, C

– Josh Beckett, SP

And here is how the hitters have fared against tonight’s starting pitchers. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox

Tampa Bay Rays @ Boston Red Sox