video thumbnail

TB@TOR: Price strikes out six in seven solid frames

TORONTO -- David Price sure likes traveling to Toronto, and so does his ballclub.

What initially looked to be a rough outing for Tampa Bay's ace turned into a dominating effort, as the lefty went seven strong innings to help the Rays complete a two-game sweep of the Blue Jays.

Price, who improved to 5-0 for his career at Rogers Centre, allowed just one hit after a three-run third inning, while the bats rallied back to score three of their own in a seventh inning filled with errors by the Blue Jays, to drop Toronto, 4-3, on Tuesday.

"Just like in his last game, I thought he got better as the game was in progress," Rays manager Joe Maddon said about his ace. "I think he could have easily gone out if we needed him to and pitched the eighth inning. Really good stuff, nothing had diminished by the end of the seventh inning."

Price started shaky and it caught up to him in the third inning. After allowing a base hit up the middle to Jose Bautista that scored the first run of the game, Price served up a 96-mph first-pitch fastball that Edwin Encarnacion hit over the fence in left, his 12th homer of the year, to give the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.

Toronto's bats couldn't do anything else off the left-hander, who struck out six and walked none while improving to 11-2 for his career against Toronto.

"That was a big team win, I was able to keep us in the game, we had some good defensive plays," said Price, who improved to 6-2 and bounced back from his worst outing of the season. "Our bats, we took advantage of a couple of their miscues. That's what good teams do.

"My two-seam, might not have been running as much [but] my offspeed, my changeup was good. I was able to get that backdoor cutter across the plate for strike one. I felt like that was the biggest thing."

Tampa Bay's offense looked like it was going to let Price down as the Rays were trailing, 3-1, entering the seventh, but Sean Rodriguez, who made a fine defensive play to end the sixth, led off the inning with an opposite-field homer off Henderson Alvarez on a 1-1 pitch to pull the Rays within one.

A pair of errors later in the frame allowed Tampa Bay to tie the game, before it took the lead for good on a double-play ball hit by B.J. Upton that scored Jose Molina.

The Rays got 10 hits off Alvarez, who allowed four runs -- two earned -- while striking out one and issuing no walks, like Price. Tampa's victory snapped Alvarez's personal-best three-game winning streak.

Things got heated in the bottom of the ninth with closer Fernando Rodney out to finish the game. The right-hander threw a 3-1 fastball that Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie thought was a ball but as he started to make his move to first, home-plate umpire Bill Miller called it a strike. Then, with the count full, Rodney threw a changeup that Lawrie felt was up in the zone, but Miller rung him up for the second out of the inning.

Lawrie was enraged and slammed his helmet to the ground, which ricocheted into Miller's leg. The 22-year-old, who was ejected from the game before he threw his helmet, had to be restrained by Toronto's manager John Farrell, who was subsequently ejected.

"Upon seeing that he was ejected, he took several steps toward me and fired his helmet. It hit me in the right hip," Miller said."That's a bit extreme."

The scene got uglier following the game after Rodney got Colby Rasmus to ground out to complete the sweep and convert his 11th save in as many tries. As Miller was walking off the field, a fan threw a cup of beer that appeared to strike him in the right shoulder, while the crowd loudly voiced its displeasure.

"That was not my intention at all," Lawrie explained after the game. "I've never, ever, done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn't mean to tonight. I apologize for that. It just kind of took an unlucky bounce and I think it got him, so my apologies for that.

"I think it was the point of the game," Lawrie said about the incident. "You look at the point in the game, how we went out ahead and how they came back and we wanted to win that game. The game's not over until it's over, to go into the ninth with one out and I come up and try to work a count to get on base for my teammates and move up a base and hopefully score and tie the game up. That's what I was up there to do, and I just felt like it was ball four and it just went against me tonight."

Ben Zobrist, who drove in Tampa's first run of the game with a double in the fifth, posted his second three-hit game in his last three, while Elliot Johnson extended his career-best hitting streak to seven games.

The Rays improved to 4-1 against the Blue Jays this season, all at Rogers Centre, and are 9-0-1 in their last 10 series versus Toronto. The victory also gave Tampa Bay a 40-19 record against its division rival since June 29, 2009.

"I just love the attitude," Maddon said about his Rays, who finished their road trip at 4-4. "You can see it among us, but in the dugout during the course of the game, it's always alive. It's really fun."

MLB.com Comments