Red Sox, Rays continue crucial series in Boston

Injury prevented David Price from being in top form the last time he faced the Boston Red Sox.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has looked pretty good since returning from his ailment and aims to pitch the Tampa Bay Rays a little closer to the first-place Red Sox on Wednesday night in the third contest of a four-game series.

Price will face the Red Sox for the first time since a triceps injury forced him out of a May 15 encounter at home that led to a stint on the disabled list.

Price lasted just 2 1/3 innings in that outing and was charged with four runs. That left him 8-5 with a 3.27 earned run average in 17 career meetings with the Red Sox, though he is 4-1 with a 2.13 ERA in eight starts at Fenway Park.

The left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA in four starts since returning from injury. Price hurled consecutive complete games before the All-Star break, splitting the two decisions, before beating Toronto on July 19. He allowed four runs on seven hits, including three homers, over seven frames of an 8-5 decision.

The 27-year-old is 4-5 in 13 starts this season with a 4.03 ERA.

Looking to prevent the Rays from again cutting into their 1 1/2-game lead atop the AL East, the Red Sox counter Price with Felix Doubront, a winner in three straight starts.

The southpaw has not lost since June 8 and beat the rival New York Yankees on Friday, giving up two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and just as many walks over 6 1/3 innings. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in a game since May 8.

"As we've seen over the last 11 times he's gone to the mound for us, he's working six or seven innings each time out," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He kept the game in check. Another very solid outing on his part."

Doubront is 7-3 with a 3.76 ERA in 18 games this season, all but one of those starts.

The 25-year-old did not factor into a 3-1 home win on June 18 despite eight scoreless innings of three-hit ball and is 2-1 lifetime versus the Rays with a 3.05 ERA in nine games (6 starts).

After the second-place Rays pulled within a half-game of the Red Sox with a win in Monday's opener, Boston responded and evened this set with last night's 6-2 triumph.

Jose Iglesias drove in two of Boston's three eighth-inning runs with a single, while Stephen Drew, Mike Carp and Dustin Pedroia each drove in a run during the victory.

Reports came out before the game that Pedroia had agreed to a seven-year, $100 million extension with the Red Sox. He is hitting .306 with six homers, 58 RBI and 14 steals in 101 games this season.

Pedroia is 12-for-35 lifetime versus Price with a homer and three RBI.

Jon Lester worked 6 1/3 innings for the win, giving up two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts. His outing helped the Red Sox beat the Rays for the 10th time in 14 meetings this year.

"You never want to diminish any start," Farrell said. "But again, where we are in the standings, where they are, knowing we're only still in July, but this was a big game for us tonight. It was probably as powerful as (Lester's) been all year."

Wil Myers and Evan Longoria each clubbed a solo homer for the Rays, who had a six-game winning streak snapped and fell to 18-3 in their past 21 games.

"If we continue to play good baseball we're going to be just fine. We did play good baseball tonight, a couple of really unfortunate moments towards the end of the game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Overall I am not displeased. I think we're doing a great job."

Roberto Hernandez was tagged in defeat for seven hits and three runs over his five-inning outing.