ST. PETERSBURG — Astros rookie right-hander Jarred Cosart said he has long looked up to Rays ace David Price.
So imagine Cosart's surprise when on the morning of his big-league debut Friday, when he would be matched against the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, Price sent him an uplifting message on Twitter that said: "Good luck. Most of all, have fun."
"It was crazy," said Cosart, who was at the Trop as a fan in 2008 watching Price close out Game 7 of the ALCS.
Not as crazy as what happened later as Cosart outdueled Price, carried a no-hitter into the seventh and lifted the Astros to a 2-1 win that ended the Rays' eight-game win streak.
"You're not going to win every night in this game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We just got slightly outpitched tonight."
Not by much. Price continued his roll since coming off the disabled list, throwing a complete game in just 87 pitches (70 strikes). "That was one of the most impressive performances I've seen on the mound," Rays DH Luke Scott said. "That was kind of like the old-school days."
Price would have pitched the 10th if the Rays (53-41) had tied it, and they nearly did, rallying with two outs against closer Jose Veras. Desmond Jennings reached on an error, stole second and scored on a single by Scott. After a single by Ben Zobrist moved pinch-runner Sam Fuld, the tying run, to third, Veras struck out Evan Longoria looking to end the game.
"Horrible feeling when you can't help out a guy who pitched like @DAVIDprice14 did 2nite," Longoria tweeted.
This, however, was Cosart's night. The Rays didn't have a big scouting report on the 23-year-old. Maddon said they knew he threw hard, in the mid 90s, and had a reputation for walking hitters. But Cosart didn't miss much Friday, when he walked three and struck out two in eight, two-hit innings, baffling Rays hitters with the late lateral movement on his cutter. He allowed five baserunners, three erased via a double play, and was helped by centerfielder Brandon Barnes' diving catch in the sixth.
"You look up in the seventh inning and there's no hits on the board, and it's like, 'Hey man, this guy is definitely having a special night,' " Scott said. "And it's not because we were off tonight, it's because he was good."
Cosart said he noticed the no-hitter in the seventh, and that was "probably why" the Rays got their first hit, a one-out ground-ball single to right by Zobrist that drew a roar from the 13,347 at Tropicana Field.
Price said he likely helped Cosart settle in by giving up two runs in the first, more than he allowed in his previous two starts combined. But Price scattered eight hits, never reached a three-ball count and needed the fewest pitches ever for a Rays nine-inning complete game. He is the first big-league starter to lose when recording a nine-inning complete game on 87 pitches or fewer since at least 1999, when complete pitch count data was first available. Cosart was pulled with one out in the ninth and will be optioned back to the minors.
"It was tremendous," Price said. "Sometimes, you've just got to tip your cap. I got outpitched tonight."