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The Rays offense struggles once again as a two-game win streak ends.
Published Jul. 5, 2010

Ben Zobrist said left-hander David Price "did everything he could have done," Friday night against the Twins.

Price carried a no-hitter into the fifth and gave up just two runs over eight innings at Target Field. It was just another example of why Price entered the game leading the American League in wins and ERA, and is a candidate to start the All-Star Game.

But as consistent as Price has been, the Rays offense has been as fickle, evident in their 2-1 loss.

Tampa Bay (46-33) scored a run in the first but was silent after that, stranding 10 and going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

"We definitely deserved a better fate," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've got to do better than one run. We had plenty of opportunities and didn't get it done. That's been the rub on us. That's why we're just floundering a bit. ... We can't maintain any offensive consistency."

The loss snapped the Rays' first two-game win streak since June 8-9 and cost them a shot to pull within one game of the Yankees in the American League East.

The deciding hit came from a familiar face. Former Ray Delmon Young continued his huge series with the tying RBI double with two outs in the seventh and scored one batter later on Danny Valencia's single.

Young, the top overall pick in 2003 went to the Twins after 2007 for starting pitcher Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett. He also had two hits, including the tying homer, in the Rays' 5-4 10-inning victory Thursday.

"He's definitely been taking advantage of our mistakes," Maddon said.

Price settled in after escaping early jams. In the first, he walked the first two batters but struck out Joe Mauer and got Justin Morneau to hit into a double play.

In the third, Price put runners on second and third with one out. But shortstop Reid Brignac snagged an Orlando Hudson grounder and threw out Valencia at the plate. And when Mauer ripped a fly ball into left-center, centerfielder Ben Zobrist raced to make a leaping, tumbling catch to thwart the threat. It was one of several sparkling defensive plays by the Rays, including a diving catch by leftfielder Carl Crawford to end the seventh.

"My defense made probably six, seven or eight good plays," Price said. "That's been the story all year for me. The defense has been unreal."

Maddon praised Price, saying he pitched "really, really well," and allowed him to stay in for a season-high 122 pitches. But the Rays couldn't crack right-hander Scott Baker after the first inning, when Crawford and Evan Longoria hit consecutive doubles. Baker had lost three of his previous four starts.

The Rays had their chances but stranded the tying run at third in the eighth and at second in the ninth, when their hottest hitter, Crawford grounded out to end the game.

"You can't expect to win with one run very often," Zobrist said. "I felt like (the game) could have gone our way, too. It's like (Thursday). It was like we stole a game from them, and they kind of stole a game from us."