Sox, rain still can't beat Price

BOSTON -- It’s something that hasn’t been done since Rip Collins did it for the St. Louis Browns in 1931. A starting pitcher beating the Boston Red Sox twice at Fenway Park in a five-day span?

Given a chance to do so because of last week’s rainout that put him back on the mound here Monday night, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price was able to do just that.

After dominating the Red Sox in a 97-pitch complete game last Wednesday, Price once again was remarkably efficient in shutting down Boston in its home park, needing only 90 pitches to make it through 7 1/3 innings Monday night. Price struck out eight and walked none, mirroring his no-walk effort last Wednesday.

“David was brilliant once again,” manager Joe Maddon said.

In six July starts since coming off the disabled list, Price has gone 4-1 with an ERA of 1.76, and has been nearly automatic each time he has gone to the mound. He has walked just one of 171 batters since returning from a left triceps strain that sidelined him for seven weeks.

Of his six starts, three have been complete games and Monday night could have been the fourth with the 28-year-old entering the eighth at 82 pitches.

Then came Mother Nature once again.

“It was untimely for the rain,” Price said of the 39-minute delay. “I felt good out there on the mound. I stayed loose during the rain, came up [to the clubhouse] and got some heat packs and kept my body loose. I told Joe I felt good and that I wanted to go back out and he let me go back out.”

Although Maddon let Price go back out following the delay, he said he had doubts about keeping his ace in the game after watching him warm up.

“I was not comfortable with myself,” Maddon said. “He’s coming off of an injury this year, he’s way too valuable, too important, to this franchise and he’s way too important to himself and his future family to jeopardize that moment.”

Coming back to face Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, Price missed with three straight pitches, his velocity down by nearly two miles per hour from the 96 he was throwing before the delay, but battled back for the strikeout. Despite the positive result, Maddon was convinced that he had made the wrong decision.

“I really almost kicked myself watching the first three or four pitches that he threw,” Maddon said. “He came back and got the strikeout, I understand that, but I didn’t like it and that was my mistake to do that in the first place.”

Despite not agreeing with his manager’s decision -- Price fired the rosin bag to the ground when Maddon emerged from the dugout -- Price said Maddon only had his best interests in mind.

“It’s Joe just making his decisions,” Price said. “He’s won the Manager of the Year however many years he’s won it [twice] and he makes decisions like that. Thankfully we came out on top.”

With the win, Tampa Bay again moved a half-game ahead of the Red Sox in the American League East.

“We want to be there in October,” Price said. “We want to play the last game of the year and win, and that’s our mindset. Get into the playoffs any way possible. Anything can happen when you make the postseason.”