Facing a potential 0-2 deficit, they'll turn to him to help even their division series up.
Price looks to continue his mastery at Fenway Park on Saturday as Tampa Bay meets the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the AL division series.
Boston used a combined eight runs in the fourth and fifth innings Friday en route to a 12-2 victory and a 1-0 series advantage. History would be squarely in the Red Sox' favor with another victory Saturday.
Twenty-four teams have fallen behind 0-2 in divisional series since 2004, with 23 ultimately losing the series.
The Rays, who were playing in their fourth city in six days, had won 10 of 12 before succumbing with sloppy defense behind a shaky Matt Moore . He yielded eight runs - seven earned - and eight hits, two walks, a hitter batter and a wild pitch over 4 1-3 innings.
Tampa Bay held a 2-0 lead after the top of the fourth with Jon Lester giving up solo homers to Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist . The Red Sox then batted around in both the fourth and fifth innings, a first in the franchise's postseason history.
The game took a turn in the fourth when Tampa Bay right fielder Wil Myers called for a high flyball off the bat of David Ortiz , but then let up allowing the ball to drop for a ground-rule double. Four batters later, Moore was late covering first base, which led to three more runs in the inning.
"We've been playing very well. We've not been making any mistakes. We made a bunch tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But I've also learned one other thing regarding baseball: 24 hours can make a huge difference. That's just one game, baby. That's just one. We'll be back tomorrow. I promise you."
Having Price (10-8, 3.33 ERA) on the mound has to bolster Maddon's confidence. The left-hander threw a seven-hitter in a 5-2 victory over Texas in Game 163 on Monday, putting the Rays in position to knock off Cleveland in Wednesday's AL wild-card game.
He's lost all three career postseason starts with a 4.66 ERA, though each contest came against Texas. The Red Sox, whom Price threw 2 1-3 scoreless innings of relief against as a rookie in the 2008 AL championship series, figures to be an ideal opponent to help turn his playoff slump around.
Price is 10-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 20 career starts against the Red Sox, including a 6-1 mark with a 1.88 ERA in 10 games in Boston. He was 2-0 in three starts there this year while limiting the Red Sox to three runs on solo homers over 22 1-3 innings. He threw a five-hitter in a 5-1 win in Boston on July 24.
Price limited to Dustin Pedroia to two hits in 14 at-bats this season, and Ortiz is batting .216 in all of their matchups, with no homers in 37 at-bats.
Speculation is swirling that this could be Price's last start in a Rays uniform. He'll become a free agent after 2015 and Tampa Bay - which is unlikely to retain him with one of baseball's lowest payrolls - could seek a return on him through the trade market.
"Whatever happens, I want to completely absorb myself and my team and my teammates like we have all year," he told the team's official website. "And that's a big part of why we're here right now."
Boston will counter with John Lackey (10-13, 3.52), who posted a 5.33 ERA over his final four starts of the year. The Red Sox are hoping he'll be recharged with Saturday marking his first outing in 11 days.
The right-hander is 3-4 with a 3.12 ERA in 14 career postseason games, though he hasn't appeared in one since 2009. He's 3-5 with a 6.70 ERA in nine starts versus the Rays since joining the Red Sox in 2010.
Desmond Jennings had been 13 for 26 over his previous nine games with eight RBIs before going 0 for 3 with two strikeouts Friday. He's 1 for 11 with five strikeouts versus Lackey.
Zobrist is 11 for 27 (.407) against him while Yunel Escobar is 8 for 15.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|September 30, 2013||Jesse Crain||60-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|September 26, 2013||Jesse Crain||Day-to-Day||Shoulder|
|September 24, 2013||Jose Lobaton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right elbow|
|September 24, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Sore left ankle|
|September 23, 2013||Desmond Jennings||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|August 15, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Lower back spasms|
|Boston Red Sox|
|September 01, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left hip contusion|
|August 29, 2013||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder irritation|
|August 17, 2013||Mike Napoli||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 05, 2013||Matt Thornton||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
BOSTON (AP) -- John Lackey has watched David Ortiz wreak destruction on playoff opponents before.
He finally got a chance to see it from the same dugout.
"I like it a lot better on this side, that's for sure," Lackey said after Ortiz hit two homers to lead the Red Sox to a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday and give Boston a 2-0 lead in the AL division series.
It was the first two-homer postseason game for Ortiz, who is the only player remaining from the 2004 Red Sox team that won the franchise's first World Series title in 86 years. He was also a star of the '07 team that won it all; both times, they opened the playoffs by eliminating Lackey's Los Angeles Angels .
"He's tough this time of year - any time of year," Lackey said. "He's a guy that likes bright lights, for sure."
Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and scored three runs for the AL East champions. Dustin Pedroia drove in three runs, and Lackey earned the win in his first postseason start since joining the Red Sox as a free agent in 2010.
Ortiz hit his first homer in the first inning, then his second in the eighth to chase Rays starter David Price .
"As long as we win, it means a lot," Ortiz said. "It's not over. We've got to keep on fighting."
Tampa Bay will need a victory in Game 3 on Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla., to avoid a sweep in the best-of-five series. The Rays won three win-or-go-home games this week just to reach this round, including Price's complete game in the tiebreaker against Texas to determine the second AL wild-card team.
"I'm really looking forward to Game 5 here," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, knowing the Rays would have to win the next two to force the series to the limit. "We just went through a week of (our) backs against the wall, so it's not new to us. It's going to be difficult. ... But I don't think it's impossible by any means."
"Boston this time of the year is kind of lovely, and I'm looking forward to coming back in a few days."
With the situation not yet desperate, Price allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out five. He took the mound for the eighth inning, but Ortiz hit his second pitch high over the Pesky Pole, and right-field umpire Chris Guccione signaled it fair.
"When he hits two home runs, things are going to revolve around him," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's the main cog in our lineup."
There was no such suspense for Ortiz's first homer, which went into Boston bullpen to make it 2-0. Not even right fielder Wil Myers , who misplayed a Big Papi popup into a double in right field in Boston's 12-2 win on Friday, could be blamed for that one.
Every Red Sox starter had a hit and scored a run in Game 1. In the sequel, everyone in the starting lineup got a hit except Mike Napoli , who drew two walks.
Lackey lasted 5 1-3 innings for Boston, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out six and also hit a batter while getting the win. Koji Uehara struck out the first two batters in the ninth before retiring Myers on a grounder.
The most visible - but hardly the only -defensive goat in Game 1, Myers was razzed by the Fenway Park crowd during every at-bat. The Rays rookie drew a sarcastic cheer after catching an easy fly ball in the fifth, but he had no real problems in the field.
Not so for the rest of the Rays. They committed two errors - a throwing error by second baseman Ben Zobrist and one by catcher Jose Molina in the first, when Ellsbury stole second and took third on the throw.
It was that kind of night for Ellsbury, who missed most of September with a broken right foot. After hitting a single and scoring in the first, he reached on a bloop double behind the third baseman in the third to drive in a run, moved up on Shane Victorino 's single and scored on Pedroia's grounder.
He also singled to lead off the fifth and scored on Pedroia's double.
Tampa Bay made it 6-4 on Yuniel Escobar's single, but Ortiz gave Boston back its cushion with a high fly ball that sailed over the right field foul pole that sits just 302 feet from home plate. Escobar, James Loney and Desmond Jennings each had two hits for Tampa Bay.
NOTES: The Red Sox also beat the Rays in Game 1 of their last playoff matchup, the 2008 AL championship series. Tampa Bay won Game 2 and won the series in seven games. ... Victorino broke up a double play in the third by upending Ben Zobrist at second base. ... Stephen Drew had an RBI triple in the Boston fourth.