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08/13/08 10:58 PM ET

Price suffers first pro loss at Triple-A

Left-hander had gone 11-0 at two levels before promotion

OAKLAND -- Apparently David Price isn't invincible after all.

The Rays' top prospect made his first Triple-A start for Durham on Wednesday night and suffered his first professional loss against Norfolk. He pitched just four innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, while walking none and striking out six.

"I felt good," Price told The Herald-Sun of Durham, N.C. "They were hitting everything tonight. This is Triple-A -- they were hitting good pitches and bad pitches. The hitters are just better, period. I feel good that I didn't walk anybody. I threw strikes, just not enough strikes. At least I made them put the ball in play. You can't have your best stuff every night."

The Bulls nearly came back after scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth, but they could not push across the tying run in the ninth and took a 7-6 loss.

Price struck out three in the first but allowed an RBI single to Oscar Salazar. After a scoreless second, Norfolk again got busy in the third, scoring twice to take a 3-1 lead.

Price retired Norfolk in order in the fourth before getting lifted after throwing 80 pitches, of which 50 were strikes.

Speculation has been rampant about Price joining the Rays to help down the stretch, but Rays manager Joe Maddon sounded indifferent when asked about his start Wednesday night.

"I know that Price is pitching," Maddon said. "I hate to tell you, but I'm not curious."

Maddon balanced his remark by maintaining he was focused on Wednesday night's game at Oakland.

Price went 7-0 with a 1.89 ERA in nine starts at Double-A Montgomery. The left-hander pitched 57 innings for the Biscuits and walked just 16 while striking out 55.

Prior to joining Montgomery, Price went 4-0 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts at Class A Vero Beach.

Price, 22, was chosen by the Rays first overall in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt University.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.