DETROIT — David Price didn’t have his all-star stuff Sunday night, but he had enough to keep the Rays rolling through the end of the road trip.
Throw in some all-star defense by center fielder Desmond Jennings and another big night for the offense against a pretty good pitcher and you have a 7-3 victory against the Tigers at Comerica Park that capped the second-best road trip in franchise history.
The Rays won nine of 11 games during the three-city, 10-day trip by winning three of four at both Baltimore and Detroit while sweeping three games from the Yankees in New York during the middle leg.
The Rays tied the 2010 team that went 9-1 on a three-city trip through Baltimore, Boston and Chicago in April.
“This is the type of baseball we expect to play,” Price said. “I don’t know if anybody expects us to hit it the way we are right now. It’s impressive, it is. If they keep it up, sweet.”
Along the way, the Rays went from having the worst record in the major leagues to climbing out of the AL East cellar. The Red Sox dropped into last place Sunday, a half-game behind the Rays, who are 81⁄2 games out of first place. The Rays were 12 back when the trip began June 27 with a day-night doubleheader in Baltimore.
“I think we’re one of the best teams in the American League, period,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I thought that from Day 1. Our record does not reflect that. We did not play that way, but we are now.”
Price, named to his fourth All-Star game earlier in the day, said he was not as in synch as he had been during his recent run of five straight games with at least 10 strikeouts. He scattered seven hits and allowed two home runs and came within one out of pitching his third complete game of the season.
“(The Tigers) definitely deserved a much better fate than they got,” Price said. “I got 26 outs. I would say at least 15 of them were hit absolutely on the screws. I was asking for some at-’em balls (Saturday) and that’s what I was able to get, and I’ll take as many as I can.”
The Rays ended Tigers starter Rick Porcello’s scoreless streak at 25 innings when Ben Zobrist singled home Jennings two batters into the game.
Matt Joyce followed with a two-run homer to give Price a 3-0 lead before he threw his first pitch.
The Rays added a run in the fifth inning on an RBI single by Evan Longoria, then put the game away with a three-run seventh that included a two-run homer by Jennings.
Zobrist tied his season-high with four hits, and Sean Rodriguez tied his career-high with four hits.
The Rays finished the trip by winning the final three games of the four-game series against the Tigers. The AL Central leaders entered the series having swept a three-game series against the A’s, owners of the best record in the majors.
“We’re not going away,” Maddon said. “We’re in it for the long haul.
“I know the math doesn’t look appropriate, but I was not good at math.”