ST. PETERSBURG Joe Maddon didn't think David Price was as sharp as he's been recently during the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1, 10-inning victory Saturday against the visiting Giants. Not that you could tell. Price pitched nine innings for the fourth time in seven starts since returning from the disabled list. He allowed a run on five hits and struck out five. Once again, he didn't walk a batter. The Rays' inability to hit with runners in scoring position made Price the first Rays pitcher to go nine innings and not be involved in the decision since Wade Davis did it against the Tigers on Aug. 24, 2011.
"David probably was not at his best, but he pitched nine innings and he gave us a chance to win," Maddon said. The Giants' lone run against Price came in the third inning and was built on a pair of singles sandwiched around a comebacker to the mound that moved Jeff Francoeur into scoring position. Brandon Crawford drove Francoeur home with a bouncer up the middle. The Giants had runners on second and third with two out in the fifth, but Price got out of that by getting Crawford to look at strike three. Francoeur then doubled to start the eighth inning but stayed put when Price retired the next three batters. "I was just executing pitches," Price said. "That's what you got to do as a pitcher. You want to be able to have guys 0-1, preferably 0-2. Just going to out there, executing pitches, making strong pitches in the strike zone and letting your defense play defense." Price is 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA in seven starts since returning from the disabled list. He's walked only one batter and struck out 40 in 57 1/3 innings. "Even in the Cy Young (Award winning) year last year I don't know if I've seen him in a stretch like this where he pitched this well, this consistently," Maddon said. "And I'm talking about pitch efficiency, meaning number of pitches, location, command within the strike zone, velocity. All the other things that he's doing - the cutter, the curveball, the changeup, the delivery - all that stuff is better now than it had been last year."