MIAMI — LHP David Price felt fine Sunday, pitching six innings (and getting a bloop single) with no issues from the day before's uncomfortable and unfortunate incident of being hit in the groin by a ball.
He just felt he didn't pitch well enough.
Price allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings, with several defensive lapses contributing to his demise, while striking out a season-high-matching nine.
But Price, now tied for the AL lead with 10 wins and percentage points behind Seattle's Doug Fister in the ERA race 2.4545337 to 2.4545365, as usual took much of the blame.
"When you throw against a guy like Josh Johnson, you have to bring your game to another level, and I didn't do that today," Price said. "And that's what happens."
Price was most disappointed by the two-run homer he allowed to Wes Helms in the sixth that made a 2-1 game 4-1.
"That's frustrating," he said. "One-and-2, it just wasn't a good pitch. I left it up, and that's what professional hitters do. You make a mistake, you pay for it."
Manager Joe Maddon offered a kinder assessment, saying Price was "actually really good," but his high pitch count (108) — due in part to the defensive miscues — led to his early departure.
BITTER TASTE: The Rays had their first losing road trip of the season, going 2-4 in Atlanta and Miami. Overall, they still have a majors-best 24-12 road mark. … They also lost the Citrus Series to the Marlins 2-4 after winning three of the previous four years.
STARTER SHUFFLE: With James Shields working an inning in relief Saturday, Maddon is "leaning toward" pushing his next start back from Wednesday to Thursday in what would amount to a flip-flop with Matt Garza.
UP AND DOWN: 2B Sean Rodriguez had a difficult time with a Cody Ross popup that he lost in the sun and didn't see until it hit the ground a few feet away.
"I'm just glad it didn't hit me in the head," Rodriguez said. "There's two reasons why: One, it would have hurt. And two, I would have been on a blooper clip somewhere and Cuz (first-base coach George Hendrick) told me to always make sure I try to stay off of there at all costs."
BLISSFUL QUIET: Sunday was much quieter and more tolerable as there were no (or at least not many) soccer-style vuvuzela horns, the standard Sun Life Stadium policy banning noisemakers back in effect after the one-night exception.
But there was still plenty of chatter about the ill-fated promotion that turned Saturday's game into something of a spectacle.
Maddon continued his campaign to have the horns, smaller version of the popular World Cup accessories, banned from future MLB games.
"Absolutely, it's ridiculous the way they're annoying," he said. "There's cool things and there's very non-cool things, and that's a non-cool thing. My apologies to South Africa and whatever goes on over there as a part of their culture."
SONNY'S DAY: RHP Andy Sonnanstine's Saturday night rescue of the Rays — getting the final three outs a night after throwing 55 pitches — turned out to be quite noteworthy.
Sonnanstine became the first pitcher to get a save the day after throwing at least 50 pitches since Ramiro Mendoza did it for the Yankees on April 19, 2001, vs. Toronto, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He also became the first pitcher to get a save by having to get three outs with the tying run on third since Sept. 2, 2003, when Fernando Rodney did so for Detroit.
MISCELLANY: INF/DH Hank Blalock left for San Diego to be with his wife for the birth of their third child and is expected back for Tuesday's game. … Class A Charlotte clinched a Florida State League first-half playoff spot with a 3-1 win over Jupiter. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson, one of the team's top prospects, allowed a run in seven innings in Triple-A Durham's 5-1 win over Louisville to improve to 9-2 with a 2.33 ERA. … East Lake High's Chris Coghlan went 10-for-25 vs. the Rays this season.