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Rays defense strong behind David Price

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes the catch at the wall to end the third inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes the catch at the wall to end the third inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

ST. PETERSBURG — Even as LHP David Price staged his possible grand finale Wednesday, the defense behind him periodically came up even grander.

Price's 120-pitch jewel against the Pirates was inlaid with a handful of fielding gems, producing the kind of luster — wins via pitching and defense — that the Rays were designed to emanate.

"The kind of game we're used to seeing around here," manager Joe Maddon said.

Eliciting perhaps the most awestruck roars from the announced crowd 23,761 was 3B Evan Longoria's sprinting snag of a pop-up in foul territory to end the third. With his real estate dwindling, Longoria made the catch, leapfrogged the Pirates' bullpen bench and cleared the waist-high wall to land in the stands. Maddon called it "spectacular."

"I was worried about his shins hitting the bench, and I was worried about that pink backpack sitting right there in front of him," Price said. "It showed how athletic he is on that play."

Preceding those acrobatics was a 6-4-3 double play in the second sparked by SS Ben Zobrist, who snagged Jordy Mercer's grounder in the hole and flipped it to Logan Forsythe at second. Then with two on and two outs in the seventh, Desmond Jennings made a running catch of Neil Walker's deep shot to center just before hitting the wall.

"Off the bat I thought it was a home run," Price said. "That would've tied the game at 3-3 and, I mean, that would've been tough. … Great catch."

COLOME GETS CALL: With Jeremy Hellickson still not ready for his return, the Rays formally will promote RHP Alex Colome from Triple-A Durham on Friday. He'll make his fourth career big-league start in the first game of that day's split doubleheader at Baltimore. Colome, suspended the first 50 games of the minor-league season for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, was 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA in five starts at Durham. His ERA was miniscule (0.67) before he was shellacked for nine runs in 11/3 innings Saturday against Syracuse. RHP Jake Odorizzi, far more partial to night contests, starts Friday's second game.

Ramos IN TOW: It's appearing that LHP Cesar Ramos, whose wife, Melanie, is set to deliver the couple's first child, won't miss the weekend series in Baltimore as expected. Ramos said that after a Wednesday doctor's visit, Melanie likely will carry the baby a week past Friday's projected due date, so he could leave later in the road trip. The couple learned of the pregnancy — which they deemed a "miracle" — on Oct. 21, a year to the day after Melanie was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments last summer.

Also expected to be available Friday are SS Yunel Escobar (right shoulder) and C Ryan Hanigan (neck stiffness), neither of whom played Wednesday.

ODDS AND ENDS: The announced attendance included 7,000 summer campers seated in groups around the park and bedecked in T-shirts of various colors. … The game marked only the third time all season in which the Rays have scored at least three runs in the first inning. … 1B James Loney (2-for-4, RBI), the only player in either starting lineup not to strike out, now has four consecutive multihit games and 25 this season. … Price and Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton, each of whom fanned 11 batters, became only the second pitching pair to record double-digit strikeouts in the same game this season. Miami's Jose Fernandez (14) and Atlanta's Alex Wood (11) did it April 22.

Rays defense strong behind David Price 06/25/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 9:56pm]

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