Looking to become the majors' first 14-game winner, Price tries for a career-best sixth consecutive victory as the Rays continue a nine-game road trip Wednesday night.
While his overall numbers leave little to be desired, Price (13-4, 2.64 ERA) has been especially dominant over his last six starts. The hard-throwing left-hander has gone 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA while striking out 42 in 42 1-3 innings and holding opponents to a .189 average.
"I'd say he's in the top two or three (AL pitchers), no question," manager Joe Maddon said. "From a purely selfish perspective, I'd say he is the best right now."
Price was at his best Thursday against Cleveland, allowing two hits, three walks and striking out seven in as many innings during a 6-0 win.
"My fastball's gotten better," he said. "I have more velocity; it's consistent throughout the entire game. The curveball's better and my cutter is more consistent right now. I throw my changeup whenever I need to and that's a little tougher for those guys."
Price threw 7 1-3 innings of four-hit ball June 1 in a 5-0 win over the Orioles, improving to 5-2 with a 2.58 ERA over 10 career matchups. He's gone 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in five outings in Baltimore.
While Jones hit his 23rd homer Tuesday, Baltimore (51-46) was otherwise stymied during a 3-1 loss. The Orioles were limited to three hits and went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. They've gone 6 for 52 (.115) in such situations over their last eight games.
"Hopefully we can pick it up here and score some runs," said catcher Matt Wieters , mired in a 1-for-23 slump.
"That was a big win for us tonight to get the road trip off on the right foot," Conrad said.
Tampa Bay will get its first look at 28-year-old rookie Miguel Gonzalez (2-1, 2.61). After his journey to the big leagues was derailed by several serious injuries, Gonzalez has held his own over his first three starts, going 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA.
"When you come from where Miguel has come from to get on the page, he's not going to assume or take anything for granted," manager Buck Showalter told the team's official website. "He's going to take advantage of every opportunity."
In his last outing, Gonzalez allowed two homers over 6 2-3 innings Friday in a 10-2 win at Cleveland. The right-hander gave up a season-high seven hits and struck out five.
Tampa Bay acquired infielder Ryan Roberts from Arizona in exchange for Double-A infielder Tyler Bortnick following Tuesday's win. Roberts hit .250 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 83 games with the Diamondbacks.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder strain|
|July 14, 2012||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic surgery, right knee|
|July 02, 2012||Brian Roberts||15-Day DL||Torn muscle, right hip|
|June 28, 2012||Nick Johnson||60-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|June 27, 2012||Nick Johnson||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right wrist|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Before he threw his first pitch, David Price had a five-run lead. Although that didn't change his approach, it certainly made it easier for the left-hander to snag his major league-leading 14th victory.
Price allowed one run over seven innings, Ryan Roberts homered and scored three runs in his Tampa Bay debut and the Rays cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 10-1 on Wednesday night.
Desmond Jennings homered on the game's first pitch to spark a five-run first inning, and that was all the offensive support Price needed to earn his career-high sixth straight win.
"Our offense has done phenomenal for me all season," Price said. "Got me five runs right off tonight."
Not that it mattered when he walked to the mound for the bottom half.
"That's when you get hurt," he said. "You still pitch like it's 0-0."
Price (14-4) gave up seven hits, struck out 10 and walked none to improve to 9-1 in 11 starts since May 20.
After the big first inning, Roberts connected with a man on in the third and rookie Jose Lobaton added a three-run drive in the fifth for a 10-1 lead.
Lobaton finished with three hits and four RBIs, both career highs. The 10 runs were more than the light-hitting Rays totaled in their previous four games.
"There were a lot of guys who participated well," manager Joe Maddon said, "but at the end of the day it's always about your starting pitcher."
Perhaps, but Roberts deserved a share of the glory, considering he arrived only a few hours before game time after being traded from Arizona late Tuesday night. In addition to his home run, the third baseman scored after being hit by a pitch in the first inning and drew a walk before Lobaton's first major league home run.
"It feels great," Roberts said. "First thing was to get here and try to meet as many people as I can. Try to introduce myself to everybody and fit in. Everybody embraced me and made me feel good. So the first thing was out of the way before the game even started. Then, to come out and contribute and play a factor any way possible was nice."
After spending the past 3 1/2 seasons with the Diamondbacks, Roberts blended in with his new club without a hitch.
"No awkwardness today. Everything ran smoothly, everything moved slowly for me," he said. "I felt comfortable. Maybe I belong here with this new group of guys."
J.J. Hardy drove in the lone run for the Orioles, who must win Thursday to avert a three-game sweep.
Jennings set the tone for the game with his leadoff drive against Baltimore rookie Miguel Gonzalez (2-2).
"It is almost like a boxing match," Maddon noted. "Desmond comes out and throws a jab and it hits. Maybe that staggered (Gonzalez) a little bit."
With two outs Carlos Pena singled in a run, and Gonzalez hit two straight batters with pitches to force in a run before Elliot Johnson capped the uprising with a two-run single.
In the bottom half, Nick Markakis singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Hardy.
Roberts made it 7-1 in the third with his first AL homer since 2006 with Toronto.
Gonzalez departed two batters later with this horrid line: 2 2-3 innings, seven runs, seven hits, two walks, two strikeouts, two home runs, three hit batters and a wild pitch.
"I didn't have my stuff tonight," he said. "I was trying to do my best but it didn't work out. ... I just want to forget about tonight's game, move forward, and get them next time."
Lobaton homered off Matt Lindstrom in the fifth after the right-hander walked two batters.
NOTES: To make room for Roberts, the Rays designated OF Hideki Matsui for assignment. Matsui was hitless in 16 at-bats since July 1. ... Baltimore C Matt Wieters went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He has one hit in his last 27 at-bats. ... It was the 35th time the Orioles reached double digits in strikeouts, most in the AL. ... The Rays improved to 18-6 when they get at least 10 hits, but their 24 games with double-digit hits are fewest in the majors. ... James Shields will start for Tampa Bay on Thursday, and Baltimore will call upon Chris Tillman to end the team's three-game skid. ... Roberts was the ninth player to man third base for the Rays, most by an AL team since Toronto in 2007. ... The Orioles hit four batters with pitches, most by the team since hitting four against Toronto in June 2003.