Tampa Bay Rays
Price sharp in Rays' victory over Blue Jays
ST. PETERSBURG - Rays ace David Price doesn't have many bad days, and when he does have one, he often responds by giving one to the next team he faces. The Blue Jays got a major dose of misery Thursday. Price struck out seven of the first 13 batters he faced and 10 in all while coming within an out of a complete game, and the Rays salvaged a split in their six-game homestand with a 3-1 victory. After allowing a career-high 12 hits in only 4 1/3 innings in an 8-5 loss to the Angels last Friday, Price (4-3) held the Blue Jays to four hits while walking none and pitched to only one batter with a runner in scoring position through the first eight innings.Manager Joe Maddon was booed by the Tropicana Field crowd of 12,682 when he pulled the lefthander with two out in the ninth, but Price had thrown 118 pitches, and Maddon wanted right-hander Kyle Farnsworth to face Yunel Escobar. Escobar singled to bring up dangerous Adam Lind as the tying run, but Farnsworth got Lind to ground to pick up his sixth save. "I think that might have been the best fastball command I've seen out of him," Maddon said of Price, adding that he caught a couple of replays on a monitor and noted that the Jays had nothing to complain about with the called strikes on Price's inside pitches. "He was throwing to both sides of the plate really well and hitting the black," catcher John Jaso said. "I mean, he was just painting with it. And with that velocity and with that movement like he has on it, I mean it was something else." Price might have had his second career shutout if not for a ninth-inning, two-base throwing error by super utility man Sean Rodriguez, who made his first start of the year at shortstop. John McDonald led off with a grounder to short. Rodriguez fielded it cleanly but rushed a weak throw that skipped well inside first baseman Casey Kotchman. McDonald spun Kotchman around as he ran by, and the ball got away. McDonald tagged and went to third on Rajai Davis' fly out to right and scored on Corey Patterson's ground out. Price acknowledged he was "probably a little mad" about not getting to finish the game. "I'm not happy about it; absolutely," he said. "I want to finish every start. But Farnsworth did a great job getting the last out." The Rays scored all the runs in the third inning against rookie righthander Kyle Drabek (2-2), the son of 1990 National League Cy Young winner Doug Drabek. Rodriguez and John Jaso delivered the first run with back-to-back doubles. Ben Zobrist walked, and Johnny Damon drove in a run with an infield single. Matt Joyce accounted for the third run with a sacrifice fly to left. The only Toronto player to reach third before the ninth was Mike McCoy, who singled and stole second in the third. He was stranded there when Price struck out Davis. The Rays' defense also helped out. Left fielder Sam Fuld threw out Juan Rivera in the fifth when he tried to stretch a single into a double and slid past the bag. Second baseman Ben Zobrist turned a slick double play in the seventh, and B.J. Upton ran down a drive to center by J.P. Arencibia in the eighth. Price, meanwhile, improved to 8-0 with a 2.13 ERA in nine career starts against the Blue Jays. His lone career shut out came last April 25 against Toronto. "He had phenomenal stuff, and he was locating it," Joyce said. "I mean, he was tough today. When he's on, it's pretty hard to score against him. Fortunately for us, he's on our team."