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Rays' David Price excels after rough start

ST. PETERSBURG — The results from LHP David Price's first 19 pitches Saturday couldn't have been much worse, but his recovery couldn't have been much better.

After Price allowed five runs before recording his second out, he gave up only two hits in the rest of his eight-inning outing in the Rays' 6-5 win over the Red Sox in 15 innings.

"We never worry about David," 2B Logan Forsythe said.

Price gave up back-to-back hits to start and allowed his 12th home run of the season, a three-run blast by A.J. Pierzynski, on his 19th pitch.

But Price dominated after that, allowing only two hits, one walk and no runs the rest of the way while striking out seven. He pitched perfect innings in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh to give the Rays' offense time to come alive. He retired 13 consecutive batters at one point and faced only one batter more than the minimum after the first inning.

Price said the only difference was how he executed.

"It was a tough first inning," manager Joe Maddon said. "Easily could have given in or caved in but came back and pitched extremely well — beyond extremely well."

RAMOS READY: LHP Cesar Ramos had been a starter before heading to the bullpen to make way in the rotation for Alex Cobb. Because he had pitched only 21/3 innings in the past 12 days, Ramos said he was gearing up for a 100-pitch outing.

"Whatever it took," said Ramos, who needed only 42 pitches to get the win Saturday with three shutout, one-hit innings. "The way the game was going, we could have been here all night."

ODORIZZI IMPROVING: RHP Jake Odorizzi gave up at least three runs in five of his first six outings. Since then, he has given up only three earned runs total while striking out 26 in his past three starts.

Maddon said Odorizzi has been more assertive and aggressive on the mound, and Odorizzi said he has felt steady improvement in his past three starts entering today's outing against the Red Sox.

"It feels like things have turned around," Odorizzi said.

INJURY UPDATES: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) plans to throw 30 to 40 pitches of live batting practice today. He said he felt no lingering soreness after his session Thursday. Hellickson could progress to simulated games after that, with rehab starts in about a week and a half.

INF Ben Zobrist (thumb) took left-handed batting practice and ran the bases before the game. He fielded grounders Thursday and told Maddon the soreness is decreasing.

MINOR MATTERS: RHP Alex Colome's 50-game steroid suspension ended after Saturday's games, and he is expected to join Triple-A Durham in the next few days. … Class A Charlotte had a 19-inning game Friday night, with catching prospect Jake DePew earning the win by pitching 31/3 scoreless innings in a 5-3 victory over Lakeland.

MISCELLANY: The Rays' five-run comeback Saturday was their largest at home since they rallied from seven down in an 8-7 win in Game 162 against the Yankees in 2011. … Rays pitchers' season-high 16 strikeouts gave them five straight games with at least 10, which ties a team record. … Boston's nine-game losing streak is its longest since September 2001. … The Rays will honor Jesuit High's Class 5A state championship baseball team before today's game. … The Rays will dress in all white for their next themed road trip. … Boston SS Xander Bogaerts (hamstring) left in the bottom of the 11th with a cramp.

Times staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at mbaker@tampabay.com or on Twitter @MBakerTBTimes.

Rays' David Price excels after rough start 05/24/14 [Last modified: Saturday, May 24, 2014 11:19pm]

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