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B.J. Upton's steal of home surprises many on the Tampa Bay Rays, including manager

ST. PETERSBURG — There were a lot of people who didn't know B.J. Upton was going to make a mad dash to steal home in the first inning Wednesday.

Including Rays manager Joe Maddon.

Upton and third-base coach Tom Foley hatched the idea, based on previous discussions about the situation, with Toronto LHP Brian Tallet on the mound and notorious base-stealer Carl Crawford on first.

So when Tallet made a pickoff throw to first, Upton made a break for the plate. "I had nothing to do with that,'' Maddon said. "That was all Fo and B.J. putting that together."

Upton said with a 3-and-1 count on Evan Longoria, he had an idea Tallet would make a throw to first. "I gave myself a big enough lead to where if I wanted to go I could, and I got a good read on him and went,'' Upton said.

It was Upton's third career steal of home, most by a Ray and matching Alex Rodriguez, Torii Hunter, Gary Sheffield and Omar Vizquel for the most among active players.

"It's a little nerve-wracking,'' Upton said. "Because you don't really know what is going to happen. But I got a good jump and I was pretty comfortable.''

ALL-STAR UPDATE: With voting on mlb.com ending today at 4, 1B Carlos Peña is going to need a big late-inning rally to get the final spot on the AL All-Star team. As of the Wednesday night update, Peña was still in fourth place, trailing Detroit's Brandon Inge, Texas' Ian Kinsler and Los Angeles' Chone Figgins and ahead of only Toronto's Adam Lind.

learning from mistakes: Rookie LHP David Price has struggled more since his late May promotion than he or the Rays ever envisioned.

But no matter how bad Price has been — and he knows he has been bad, using words such as "inexcusable" and "embarrassed" to describe outings — he doesn't see any scenario where a trip back to the minor leagues would help.

"No, I don't think so," Price, 23, said. "I need to learn to pitch at this level, not at Triple A. I'm going to learn how to pitch here by pitching here.

"If I take my lumps and bruises now — I think what's happened so far is kind of going to be a blessing in disguise."

Price, who starts today's matinee in a tough matchup with Jays ace Roy Halladay, is 2-3 with a 5.21 ERA in eight starts. He compared his rough start this season to his sophomore year at Vanderbilt, and said he learned greatly from that, and improved significantly the next season.

"At the time it was happening, I didn't appreciate it, but when it was all said and done, I said that was the biggest moment of my college career,'' he said.

Price will keep his routine the same but plans to alter his approach, seeking to find the "edge" he had when he debuted last season.

"I just haven't had that edge, haven't had that mentality when I was out there," he said. "I have to get back to the same way I was last year, the same way that got me to this point: the batter that's standing in the box is trying to take something from me and I've got to stop him from doing that."

REHAB REPORT: LHP Brian Shouse (out since May 25 with a left elbow strain) will throw a simulated game Friday then probably another the next week as prep to going on a rehab assignment.

MINOR MATTERS: LHP Matt Moore struck out six and allowed one run in six innings for Class A Bowling Green on Wednesday and now has a dazzling 108 K's in 762/3 innings. … RHP Andy Sonnanstine had a second solid start for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday, allowing three runs over seven inning to improve to 2-0, 3.46.

MISCELLANY: The Rays had three previous walkoffs on consecutive nights: May 19-20, 2006, vs. the Marlins; July 3-4, 2003, vs. the Red Sox and White Sox; and June 14-15, 2000, vs. the Angels. … Ben Zobrist's walkoff hit was his first. … Today's early 12:08 start is to accommodate Parks and Rec Day, meaning lots of loud and lively kids.

B.J. Upton's steal of home surprises many on the Tampa Bay Rays, including manager 07/08/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 9, 2009 6:28pm]
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