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Rays

Price, Rays dominate Kansas City

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 04:39 AM

The Rays may or may not have everything they need to make a run at the Yankees and the Red Sox.

They certainly have what they need to make a run over the dismal Royals.

After their braintrust stood pat on the final day for non-waiver trades, the Rays rolled to an 8-2 victory Friday night at Tropicana Field, improving to 7-0 against Kansas City in front of 26,596 fans.

Two players mired in deep funks - and critical to the Rays' chances of catching the Yankees and/or Red Sox for a playoff berth - were key contributors.

Carlos Pena, who entered the night batting .138 in July, hit a three-run home run in the first inning. Pat Burrell, whose season-long difficulties have started to wear on the Tampa Bay faithful, went 2-for-4 with a triple, a run-scoring single and a run scored.

The pitching was there, too. Rookie David Price (4-4) put a poor start at Toronto last Saturday behind him, matching his longest outing of the season with seven innings while allowing one run on five hits.

"I really believe in our guys," Manager Joe Maddon said. "There's really no reason why we can't start scoring a bunch of runs. We have that within us."

The Rays entered Friday batting .229 in July, which ranked 28th in the majors, but they had 12 hits in the month's final game. Everybody in the lineup had at least one hit except Evan Longoria, and he walked twice and scored once.

Jason Bartlett had a run-scoring double in the fourth, Ben Zobrist drove in one with a triple in the fifth, Gabe Gross had a run-scoring single in the fifth and Dioner Navarro hit a solo home run in the eighth.

Price looked far more confident and poised after allowing six runs in three innings his last time out in a game the Rays came back to win 10-9.

"I was just competing, really," Price said. "Those hitters in there are trying to take something away from me every time they step in the box. So that's the mentality I took out there tonight."

"He looked good," Maddon said of the lefty. "He pounded the strike zone with his fastball. His velocity got up to 95 when he wanted to. Better slider for strike, better changeup. He was just in overall better command."

The Rays got an early jump on veteran righty Sidney Ponson (1-7), who was making his 28th start against them.

B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford opened the game with singles, setting the table for Pena, who launched an outside pitch the opposite way for a three-run homer off the left-field foul pole.

Kansas City got one back in the second after a lead-off single by Alberto Callaspo and ground-out RBI by Alex Gordon.

After Burrell tripled off the left-center wall and scored on Bartlett's single in the fourth to make it 4-1, the Rays broke the game open in the fifth with three runs.

The Royals added an unearned run in the ninth after reliever Joe Nelson scooped a grounder from Callaspo and flung it down the right-field line. Brayan Pena's sacrifice fly scored Callaspo.

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