ST. PETERSBURG — Even before Friday's 3-1 loss to Houston, Rays ace David Price hasn't hidden the fact he's frustrated.
Frustrated with the season. Frustrated with the results. Frustrated with answering questions about if he and his teammates are frustrated with holding the worst record in baseball.
"Of course he is," manager Joe Maddon said.
"Anybody would be."
The frustration continued Friday at Tropicana Field, when a milestone night for Price ended with his seventh loss.
By matching his season high with 12 strikeouts, Price passed Seattle's Felix Hernandez for the major-league lead and became only the second pitcher in club history with at least 1,000. His fourth consecutive game with at least 10 strikeouts broke the club record of James Shields — the other 1,000-strikeout Ray — and is the most in the majors since Boston's Jon Lester had four in a row in 2010.
He gave up six hits and three walks (one intentional) in his eight innings. He even got help from his defense, including a sliding catch by Kevin Kiermaier into the rightfield bullpen.
But one belt-high changeup that rookie George Springer belted to leftfield wrecked the night for Price and the Rays (29-46).
Springer's two-run blast in the third inning was clocked by Sun Sports at 105.2 mph and rocketed off the D-ring catwalk. It was the 16th home run Price has allowed this year (most in the American League) and matched his season totals of 2012 and 2013.
That one pitch — intended to go down and away — combined with another night of offensive struggles was enough to make Price the first AL pitcher to lose three times during a streak of four double-digit strikeout games since Nolan Ryan in 1989.
"That part is frustrating for him and for us," Maddon said.
After second-year right-hander Jarred Cosart pitched eight shutout innings to outduel Price for the second time in his brief career, the Rays needed a two-out RBI single by Yunel Escobar in the ninth off former Ray Chad Qualls to avoid an AL-worst 12th shutout.
They finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and fell to 2-for-24 over the past three games.
"If we've got to go nine scoreless innings to win a game, that's not the way you want to do it," Price said.
As the Rays linger at the bottom of the standings with three losses in their past four games, it's unclear how much longer Price's frustration will have to fester in Tampa Bay. Price is expected to be a major target before the July 31 trade deadline, and the Yankees, Blue Jays, Giants, Cardinals and Indians sent multiple or high-ranking representatives to Friday's game.
"It stinks," Price said. "You want to win out there. Our team wants to win, and we're not doing that right now. It's frustrating."
The frustration lingered in the clubhouse. After meeting with reporters, Price simply shook his head at his locker before slipping on his sunglasses and walking away.