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Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price upset over second straight subpar start

MIAMI — LHP David Price didn't have any excuses.

Or any answers.

All he knew was that he didn't do well for a second straight start and, using his favorite word, that's unacceptable.

"I'm just not pitching very well right now," the All-Star ace said. "I've got to get better."

In any specific area?

"Just get better out there," he said. "Couldn't tell you. I feel fine with everything I'm throwing. I've just got to make better pitches."

Even more so, he acknowledged, because the offense is again struggling. "That puts more pressure on us as pitchers," he said. "We know we've got to go out there and pitch better. That's the bottom line. We know we can do it. We've been doing it for a lot of this year. And a lot of the other guys are still doing it. I just have to get back on track."

Price is 5-4, 3.89 overall, but Saturday was the second straight game he allowed five runs. And he worked 62/3 innings, after going five in his last start, against the Yankees.

Price walked leadoff man Hiram Bonifacio and gave up two first-inning runs, but manager Joe Maddon said more damning was a seventh-inning sequence when Price allowed a 1-and-2 single to Wes Helms then an 0-and-2 homer to light-hitting Omar Infante that pushed the Florida lead from 3-0 to 5-0. "I thought those two at-bats there were huge," Maddon said.

IN A PINCH: The Rays used five pinch-hitters, one shy of their major-league record, during the eighth inning. That emptied the bench, so RHP Andy Sonnanstine was warming up to pinch-hit for the pitcher if the Rays extended the game or to play the field in the event of an injury, and RHP Wade Davis was ready for a potential pinch-running stint.

UPTON BACK: CF B.J. Upton said the tightness in his gluteal muscles (buttocks), which forced him from Friday's game, wasn't totally gone, but he felt good enough to return to action, which he did as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. He is expected to be in the lineup today.

NO JOSHING: The Rays seemed to catch a break when Marlins ace Josh Johnson, who was supposed to pitch today, went on the DL with right-shoulder inflammation and was replaced by RHP Jay Buente, who will make his first big-league start.

But Maddon insisted he was disappointed.

"This guy is one of the top pitchers in baseball, and people might think I'm nuts, but I really would prefer having him pitch (today)," he said. "I always like the idea of facing the best and seeing where you stack up. I do. I mean that. I like that."

Rays starting pitcher James Shields, who has to hit today under NL rules, had a slightly different perspective.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the game, and I'm sorry to hear he's going on the DL," Shields said. "But it's not a bad thing anytime you don't have to face 98 (mph) with a little bit of sink."

MISCELLANY: LHP J.P. Howell said he felt great the day after his first big-league appearance post shoulder surgery on Friday, and he should be available today if needed. … Johnny Damon notched his 268th interleague hit, second-most all time. … SS Reid Brignac committed his fourth error, though the Rays logged their 46th game without multiple errors, two shy of the 2010 Twins major-league record to start a season.

Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price upset over second straight subpar start 05/21/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 21, 2011 10:36pm]
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