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David Price ready to go in must-win game for Tampa Bay Rays

BOSTON — LHP David Price was leading the cheers in the Rays dugout for Matt Moore on Saturday, knowing exactly what the rookie was going through since he had a similar relief role in 2008.

But today, Price will be on the mound, the rest of the Rays rooting for him to pitch them to a victory in their latest crucial test.

"We've got to win (today)," he said. "We knew we had to win these next two games. (Today) is the biggest game of the year, so I need to step up."

The Rays have tremendous confidence in Price, and they like the matchup against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who needed eight attempts for his last win, which was the 200th of his career. The Rays have handled him well, as he is just 2-5, 7.24 in his past nine starts against them.

ON THE RUN: LF Desmond Jennings said he is always ready for action when he's on third base, and manager Joe Maddon lauded him for being even more so Saturday knowing Sox starter Jon Lester has a tendency to bounce his slider to right-handed hitters.

That was exactly what happened in the third inning, and even though the ball didn't get far from C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jennings raced home with a key run.

Said Jennings: "Just reaction."

MEDICAL MATTERS: INF Sean Rodriguez started at shortstop but left the game after five innings with a recurrence of tightness in his back. … OF Sam Fuld made his first appearance since straining the ECU tendon in his right wrist Wednesday, playing rightfield in the ninth. He remains limited to pinch-running and defense. … RHP Kyle Farnsworth is set to play catch on the field today for the first time in more than a week after his right elbow felt good following Friday's drills, which included throwing a ball in a sock. If all goes well, Farnsworth hopes to throw off the mound in New York on Tuesday and return to action Thursday. … Fuld and Farnsworth were both checked out Saturday by Rays team orthopedist Dr. Koco Eaton, who was in the area looking at schools for his son. "The irony of it is that they're looking at Exeter (Academy, in New Hampshire) which is my school," Fuld said.

ZO GO: 2B/RF Ben Zobrist is set to fly home tonight to be with his wife Julianna, who is having labor induced on Monday, for the birth of their daughter, Kruse. Zobrist plans to rejoin the team Wednesday morning, thus missing only one game.

STRIKING OUT: Maddon stood by his comments about the "egregious" and "one-sided" umpiring in Friday's game and didn't seem concerned about any potential discipline: "I said what I said (Friday) and I meant everything that I did say."

He also dismissed any suggestion of an MLB conspiracy theory to favor the Red Sox so they advance rather than the Rays: "I've never ever ever even formulated that thought personally. I can't go there."

MISCELLANY: Lost in the Moore mania was the ninth-inning work of RHP Joel Peralta, who got the final three outs for his fourth save. … RHP Jeff Niemann said he understood Maddon's strategy in taking him out after five innings and 89 pitches: "It worked out." … The Rays beat the Sox for the 11th time this season, matching last season's franchise most, with six losses. … The Rays have held the Sox to a .187 average in the 17 games.

David Price ready to go in must-win game for Tampa Bay Rays 09/17/11 [Last modified: Sunday, September 18, 2011 12:09am]

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