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Rays

Rays' bats come to life; Price wins 13th

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:12 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

For the first time since July 8, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon could finally talk about his team's hitting in a positive manner.

Even though the Rays went 3-4 during that stretch, every time the offense showed signs of coming out of its funk, they were on the losing end on the scoreboard.

Not Thursday. Behind the clutch hitting of B.J. Upton and Luke Scott, along with another strong pitching performance by David Price, the Rays salvaged a series split with Cleveland, winning 6-0 in front of 27,856 youth-charged fans at Tropicana Field.

Upton, hitting in the leadoff position for the third consecutive game, provided the big hit in the sixth inning that preserved Price's major-league-leading 13th victory.

"That was two outs and no one on, right?" Maddon asked. "We had Desmond (Jennings), Jose (Molina) and then Sean (Rodriguez) before B.J. unloads them and here comes Carlos (Peña), who finds a spot. That's something that's been done against us … we haven't been able to do it ourselves. It was kind of nice to return the favor."

With the Rays leading 1-0 on Scott's third-inning homer, his 12th, Jennings was hit by a pitch by Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez with two outs in the sixth. Molina followed with a single to center and Rodriguez walked to load the bases.

With an 0-1 count, Upton lashed a double to left, clearing the bases and giving Price and the Rays some breathing room with a 4-0 lead.

"It wasn't just me," said Upton, who recorded his first three-RBI hit since his grand slam last season against Boston on Sept. 11. "It could have been anyone else in that situation. We needed that, because we haven't been doing it lately. It definitely felt good."

Maddon also was impressed with Peña's at-bat following Upton. Peña's single to right-center scored Upton for the Rays' fifth run.

"Finally that two-out, no-one-on moment came back to us," Maddon said. "That was a big part of the game. Putting those points on the board really took any momentum away from (the Indians') minds. That was a big play."

That was all Price would need. The All-Star cruised through the Indians lineup, allowing two singles in his seven innings of work.

"David was outstanding," Maddon said. "He had great command of his fastball, started mixing in some other things. The fastball velocity — a lot of 97s (mph) and 98s where he wanted to throw it.

"That's what even makes it better. It's not only high velocity but well located."

Price allowed more than one base runner in only one inning, the fifth. Carlos Santana led off with a walk and went to second on a single by Jose Lopez, the Indians' first of the game. But Molina cut down Santana at third on a double-steal attempt with Lou Marson batting.

Lopez did become the only Cleveland runner to reach third when Price threw a wild pitch. Marson walked, but Aaron Cunningham flied out to end the inning.

The Rays added their last run in the seventh inning on consecutive doubles from Scott and Jeff Keppinger.

Wade Davis relieved Price in the eighth inning and faced the minimum six hitters, giving up a walk, getting a double play and striking out the side in the ninth.


rharmon@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7616 Twitter: @RickHTampaTrib

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