Tampa Bay Rays' Jeff Keppinger, right, slides into third base with a triple ahead of the tag by Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Lopez during the third inning Thursday.
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price threw another gem.
Price became the AL’s first 13-game winner, B.J. Upton had three RBIs, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians 6-0 on Thursday.
Price (13-4) allowed two hits over seven innings. The All-Star left-hander had seven strikeouts and three walks.
“I’d say he’s in the top two or three (AL pitchers), no question,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “From a purely selfish perspective, I’d say he is the best right now.”
Price has won five consecutive decisions.
“That’s why I felt that (Wednesday’s) win was so important for us, because you really don’t want come into the last game of the series trying to tie the series against David Price,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He overpowered us. We just didn’t have good at-bats against him.”
Upton hit a three-run double off Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9) during a four-run sixth that put the Rays up 5-0. After getting two outs, Jimenez loaded the bases before giving up Upton’s shot down the third-base line. Upton scored on Carlos Pena’s RBI single.
Jimenez allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out five and walked five.
Wade Davis pitched the final two innings and completed a two-hitter for the Rays.
After Carlos Santana walked to start the fifth, Jose Lopez lined a single to center for the Indians’ first hit. Price, however, was able to work out of the jam, aided by Santana getting thrown out attempting to steal third during a double-steal try.
“My fastball’s gotten better,” Price said. “I have more velocity; it’s consistent throughout the entire game. The curveball’s better and my cutter is more consistent right now. I throw my changeup whenever I need to and that’s a little tougher for those guys.”
Jeff Keppinger made it 6-0 on a seventh-inning run-scoring double.
Luke Scott put the Rays up 1-0 on a third-inning solo homer. He is 14 for 33 in eight games against Cleveland since the weekend before the All-Star break, while going hitless in 38 at-bats in 12 games against all other teams.
“It’s a very comfortable feeling when you have the lead out there, even if it’s one,” Price said. “They’ve done a very good job for me this year of scoring runs early and I appreciate it. Honestly I feel like we’ve played our best baseball when I’ve been on the mound.”
The Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but failed to score when the struggling Hideki Matsui struck out. After hitting homers in two of his first three games with the Rays, Matsui is 12 for 79.
Jimenez helped himself defensively in the fourth by fielding Sean Rodriguez’s bunt and tagging out Desmond Jennings, who tried to score from third, at the plate.
“I thought Ubaldo battled well for us,” Acta said. “He gave us five innings to do something, to score runs, and we couldn’t do it.”
Tampa Bay second baseman Ben Zobrist made a nice running catch in shallow center on Shin-Soo Choo’s soft liner leading off the first.
Notes: Price is 5-0 overall against Cleveland. ... Rays C Jose Molina swiped second in the second for his first stolen base of the year and 13th overall. ... Indians OF Michael Brantley was the DH. “Something to get Michael off his feet today,” Acta said. ... Tampa Bay RF Matt Joyce has soreness and was out of the lineup after playing consecutive days. He had missed 23 games due to a left oblique strain before returning Tuesday from the 15-day DL.
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