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07/04/07 6:00 PM ET

Beckett goes for 12th win vs. Rays

Boston (52-31) vs. Tampa Bay (33-50), 7:05 p.m. ET

It won't take much help for Josh Beckett to get back on track against these Devil Rays.

In his last start before his first All-Star Game, the 27-year-old Red Sox fireballer will face Tampa Bay, losers of 10 straight. Beckett lost his last start, a rare occurrence after starting the season 11-1.

He did that against the Texas Rangers, who, like the Rays, are a last-place ballclub with flashy offensive potential and little else, at least for the moment. The Devil Rays are younger and more athletic than Texas, but, unlike the Rangers, they enter their game against Beckett with an established track record of success against him.

Beckett has allowed 11 earned runs in 19 2/3 career innings against Tampa Bay, all coming last year in his first American League season. He ended the 2006 campaign by issuing a series of eights against the Devil Rays: 6 2/3 innings, eight runs to go with eight strikeouts.

Since then, Beckett and the Devil Rays have traveled in opposite directions. Tampa is 3 1/2 games worse than it was at this point last season, when it lost 101 games. Beckett is bound for a career year.

Left-hander J.P. Howell, who owns a 9.21 ERA on the road against a 2.25 ERA at home, will get the call for Tampa Bay at Fenway Park.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (11-2, 3.38 ERA)
Despite the annual Sunshine State Series, Beckett never pitched against the Devil Rays as a member of the Florida Marlins, perhaps because of his propensity for midseason blister troubles in South Florida. Before ending the 2006 season on a sour note against Tampa Bay, he threw well in two starts against them, allowing three earned runs in 13 innings.

TB: LHP J.P. Howell (1-2, 5.19 ERA)
Howell, a 24-year-old product of the University of Texas in Austin, has pitched parts of the last three seasons with Kansas City and Tampa Bay. He has allowed five runs in 4 2/3 career innings against the Red Sox.

Player to watch
No Red Sox player has faced Howell more than six times (besides Coco Crisp, no one has had more than three at-bats against him), but David Ortiz has a home run in his three at-bats against the Devil Rays starter. He would certainly like to regain his power in his last home game before the break.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WEEI 850, WROL (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 5-6, 4.39) at Tigers (Andrew Miller, 3-2, 3.81), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (Kason Gabbard, 2-0, 5.79) at Tigers (Jeremy Bonderman, 9-1, 3.58), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 10-5, 3.53) at Tigers (Nate Robertson, 4-6, 4.86), 1:05 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.