ST. PETERSBURG — There was a lot for the Rays to talk about after Monday's 5-0 win over the White Sox.
The eight sterling innings from blazing starter David Price were nice. A relative offensive breakout — including a three-run first inning and four hits by Super Sam Fuld, increasing his average to an AL-best .396 — was impressive. Beating ex-mate Edwin Jackson for the first time, considering how he had manhandled them before, felt pretty good.
But it was their dazzling defense — led by shortstop Reid Brignac and Fuld in centerfield — that carried the conversation.
"That is so much fun to watch," manager Joe Maddon said. "We were flying all over the place. We played the glove really well (Monday night). … That's who we have to be. That's the kind of game we have to play to be successful."
Brignac made what was considered the play of the day, ranging far to his right and diving for a ball that got by third baseman Sean Rodriguez, then getting up and firing to first to nab catcher Ramon Castro.
"You see where he was on the field; it was ridiculous," Maddon said.
Fuld challenged him with a running/sliding/diving contortion of a catch — "I don't know what it was; it didn't look too pretty," he said — the next inning in shallow center, just getting his glove under Brent Morel's ball.
"I heard that the world is covered by 75 percent water and the other 25 percent is covered by Sam Fuld," Price said. "And I'm buying that right now. He's doing that right now."
Those weren't the only highlight plays for the 7-9 Rays before a Tropicana Field gathering of 12,016.
Rodriguez speared a smash and turned to throw Juan Pierre out at first in the third. First baseman Casey Kotchman made a great scoop on an Elliot Johnson throw in the second. Rightfielder Ben Zobrist made a running and diving catch in right-center in the sixth.
"I'll be watching ESPN later to see how many of those are on the top 10," Price said.
With Johnny Damon, B.J. Upton and Dan Johnson out, and with Jackson, who had a no-hitter and a 13-K game his past two starts against them, on the mound, the Rays knew they'd need to play the game right.
Getting a first-inning lead was a novel concept, just the second time in 16 games they've done it (and just the second game in which they didn't trail). Fuld got them started, and an Elliot Johnson bunt, an RBI single by Felipe Lopez (who had three hits, including a homer) and a two-out, two-run homer by Zobrist (who had been 1-for-8 off Jackson) gave them a 3-0 advantage.
Fuld, a former Cub, had a four-hit game for the second straight Monday.
"This kid was hitting .090 in Chicago, and now I look at the scoreboard and he's hitting .390," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Price, admittedly fired up to beat the White Sox for the first time in five tries, took charge from the start, striking out nine while allowing four hits, hitting 98 mph and breaking out a cross between a cutter and a backdoor slider for the first time.
"He had that real good look about him," Maddon said.
"It was a big game for me. The White Sox have had my number ever since I've been in the big leagues," Price said. "I was 0-4 with them, never beat 'em, never even got a no-decision. That was a big game. I was fired up for it. I had a lot of help, all the trainers and guys they were pumping me up last night, and this morning everyone was sending me texts."
That wasn't all the help he got.