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08/12/09 1:45 AM ET
Price's promising start unravels
Rays lefty surrenders six runs after four no-hit innings
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- A pitching duel took an ugly turn for the Rays on Tuesday night as they took their third consecutive loss, falling to the Angels, 6-0, with 43,559 watching at Angel Stadium. Every loss the Rays have these days is magnified in relation to what the Yankees and Red Sox did. On Tuesday night, the first- and second-place teams in the American League East won, which means the Rays head into Wednesday's action trailing the Yankees by nine games in the standings and the Red Sox by 3 1/2. The loss also insured the Rays a losing road trip to the West Coast. David Price and Ervin Santana hooked up to put a bunch of zeros on the scoreboard in the early going as both teams sent the minimum to bat through three innings. Price looked especially sharp as he retired the first 10 batters he faced before hitting Maicer Izturis with one out in the fourth. Still, he maintained a no-hitter through four innings before Juan Rivera broke his spell with a leadoff single in the fifth. Kendry Morales then hit into what appeared to be a double play, but Morales beat the throw to first. One out later Jeff Mathis singled and Carl Crawford misplayed the ball in left, which allowed the runners to move to second and third. Reggie Willits then shot a single through the middle to score both runs and advanced to second on the throw to the plate. With Willits running, Chone Figgins singled to right field to put the Angels up, 3-0. "He made two good pitches to start the at-bat, and I didn't feel too good," Willits said. "But I hung with it. His changeup is 89. He threw me six straight fastballs, and one had sink on it, another was a little straighter. I finally got lucky and put one in play." In the sixth, the Angels picked up where they left off when they loaded the bases with two outs against Price and Mathis doubled to left to empty the bases to push the lead to 6-0. "As the game went on," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "Price did what [Derek] Holland did for Texas against us Sunday. He came right after us. He's a much better pitcher than we saw earlier in the year. We got more aggressive with him and got some big hits, none bigger than Reggie Willits' in the fifth." Rays manager Joe Maddon complimented the Angels for their ability to come through in the clutch. "They got a couple of two-out knocks, and they did a nice job with that," Maddon said. "I think they scored all six of their runs with two outs. And they're capable of that. I've seen them doing that before." Price sets high standards for himself, so he made no excuses while taking the blame for the loss. "I felt good," Price said. "Just came down to me not being able to make a big pitch for us. That's the bottom line." Meanwhile, the Rays' offense, which scored seven runs on Monday night, found the going tough against Angels starter Ervin Santana, who dominated from the start to pick up his fifth win of the season with a three-hit shutout that required 97 pitches. "I just think there are some nights where we're not really on," Ben Zobrist said. "Some nights, it's the pitcher, some nights, it's more us. I think tonight, it was the pitcher. "When you have a hard time getting comfortable and you can't really get anything going offensively, it tends to kind of be a trend one through nine. If you string a few together then all of a sudden, you get on him, he gets flustered a little bit, but we never got there tonight." Santana executed a well-thought-out plan, according to Zobrist. "I didn't see many good pitches to hit, I'll just say that," Zobrist said. "He didn't really throw me anything that looked really good. He kept the ball just out of the zone. He threw his slider really well, I thought. He had me fooled tonight. "I think, overall, when you don't jump on him early, when he's throwing his fastball and he's able to get to his other stuff, he's pretty tough. ... He's real tough. And later on in the game he just started going to his offspeed stuff early. And even if you sit on it, it's not a great pitch to hit." The Rays are now 8-16 this season against the AL West and 1-12 over their last 13 games in Anaheim since 2006. Despite his team's funk, Maddon -- a California resident -- managed to smile. "It just seems to me California's a nice place to live, but a tough place to visit," he said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.