ST. PETERSBURG — Rays power pitcher David Price had another strong-armed performance Wednesday afternoon against the Rangers.
Price allowed five hits, one walk and struck out eight in eight innings, but all his might on the mound couldn't make up for the Rays' weak swings at the plate in a 3-0 loss before 13,725 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays (29-26), who have scored one run in three of the five losses Price has suffered this season, managed five hits against Rangers pitchers Colby Lewis and closer Neftali Feliz, who worked the ninth.
"He was phenomenal,'' Rays outfielder Matt Joyce said of Price. "That's the toughest part of it, when you see your guy going out there and doing what he's doing, giving you eight solid innings, and you can't really put up any runs for him. So it's really frustrating.''
Some of that frustration was visible in the eighth inning when Price fell to his knees on the infield turf and removed his glove after a two-out, bad-hop liner by the Rangers' Elvis Andrus skipped over the glove of first baseman Sean Rodriguez into rightfield to score two runs.
"David was really good, he deserved a better fate,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "Their guy was really good, too. Lewis was really good on their side. But David had outstanding stuff, pounded the strike zone. They got the one run with the double and the base hit to center and then the last two runs were very unfortunate, but it happens.
"We have to score more runs. We have to score a run. So in spite of what they may have done today, we pitched well enough and played on that field well enough to win that game. We just did not hit, and that's been our problem this year, obviously, especially at home.''
If the backdrop of the Trop is what has befuddled Rays hitters, they won't have that problem for a while.
After the game, the Rays left for a four-city, 11-game, 12-day road trip that will total 7,208 miles in the air, beginning with the start of a four-game series in Seattle then three against the Angels in Anaheim, three in Baltimore and ending with a makeup game in Detroit.
"Hopefully, it keeps rolling for us on the road and we can get seven or eight games on the road and turn it around from this past week, because we've kind of been struggling a little bit,'' Joyce said.
In suffering their eighth loss in 12 games, the Rays failed to score for only the second time this year. Lewis scattered four hits and struck out eight, allowing only three runners into scoring position.
Price, facing the Rangers for the first time since losing twice to them in the ALDS, matched Lewis pitch for pitch until Texas broke the ice in the fifth. Adrian Beltre doubled leading off and scored on Nelson Cruz's single to center.
That was it until the eighth, when Price retired the first two batters before No. 9 hitter Craig Gentry doubled to right. Ian Kinsler walked after working Price to a full count, then the Rangers pulled off a double steal. That's when Andrus, who had bunted into an out in the first, struck a ball that hopped over the glove of a drawn-in Rodriguez.
"It's frustrating,'' Price said. "I threw the ball well. I didn't throw well enough. Colby Lewis threw a great game and that's that.
"I mean, yeah, you can't win if you don't (score). It's tough. Those guys are out there trying, so it's tough.''
Tough, maybe, but Maddon knows if his hitters don't keep kicking out the cord, he can plug his power pitcher in again and Price will grind out more wins.
"If he pitches that way, he's going to win many, many, many, many ballgames,'' Maddon said.