ST. PETERSBURG — Rays left-hander David Price entered Monday's Game 3 start looking for redemption.
Price, coming off a winless September, had pitched poorly in the wild-card-clinching win over the Yankees, and he was grateful to have a second chance.
He also wanted another crack at the Rangers, whom he had never beaten, including two losses in last year's AL Division Series that he labeled tough to swallow.
Price pitched better Monday, leaving the game with two outs, one on and the Rays down 2-1 in the seventh. But Price lamented the fact his team gave him a lead — albeit just one run — and he gave it back, picking up the loss after allowing a two-run homer by catcher Mike Napoli in the seventh.
"All it takes is one pitch in the postseason," Price said. "And that's what cost me today."
In that critical at-bat, Napoli — who had a career year for the Rangers — was down 0-2 but battled back, fouling off a couple pitches and taking two balls before ripping a fastball over the leftfield wall.
"I would call the same exact pitch again," catcher John Jaso said. "If it's 4 inches more inside, it would have been a jam-shot to (third baseman Evan Longoria)."
Price had to work his way through early on, stranding a runner at second in the first two innings, while benefiting from strong defensive plays.
Price helped himself with his glove in the sixth. With the Rays clinging to a 1-0 lead and runners on first and second with one out, Price pounced off the mound to make an over-the-shoulder snag of a Josh Hamilton chopper, beating him to the bag.
"I'm just tired of seeing infield hits, so I wanted to make a play," said Price, who fell to 0-6 in his past seven starts against Texas.
Manager Joe Maddon said Price, who had three strikeouts, did a nice job of utilizing all his pitches.
"I thought overall David really represented himself well tonight and gave us a solid chance to win that game," Maddon said.
But Price remained winless in his past seven starts, despite recording quality starts in five of them. He pitched with the lead in five of them.
"We need to win these games," Price said. "This is the postseason; this is October. Winning is the only thing that matters right now, and we didn't do that today."
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.