Rays try to trim Boston's lead in AL East

The Tampa Bay Rays' recent road trip may have cost them a shot at an American League East title. They can try and slice into the Boston Red Sox' lead on Tuesday, though, when the division foes start a three-game set at Tropicana Field.

Tampa went just 3-7 on its 10-game trek and has fallen 7 1/2 games off the pace of the Red Sox in the AL East. Despite their recent struggles, the Rays still hold the final wild card spot in the AL and are 1 1/2 games up on both Baltimore and Cleveland.

"We've got enough baseball left. We're still in a position to make the postseason," said Tampa Bay ace David Price, who will start Tuesday. "We still control our own destiny. That's a big thing for a team right now, in September. For us to have put ourselves in the position we're in right now is very big."

Price takes the hill for the Rays on Tuesday trying to stop a personal two- game slide. Price's most recent loss came in Anaheim on Thursday, as he allowed six runs and 11 hits in seven innings to fall to 8-7 on the year to go along with a 3.51 ERA.

He had won his previous five decisions before this stretch.

"He's throwing the ball great," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "There's not a thing wrong about the way he's throwing the baseball. His stuff has been fabulous.

"I'm just looking for all of this to come together at the right time. We're going through a tough moment right now on the other side of the country. Get back to our home cooking, our own beds, get that vibe going again and finish strongly and take it into October, that's how I'm seeing it right now."

Price is 2-1 in four starts this season against the Red Sox with a 2.55 ERA. Overall, he's 10-5 against them with a 2.98 ERA in 19 starts.

Boston, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Clay Buchholz, who hasn't pitched since June 8 because of a strained neck. Buchholz was among the best pitchers in baseball before the injury, going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA.

Buchholz threw a bullpen session in New York on Sunday and will likely be limited to 75-80 pitches on Tuesday.

"We're hopeful we get a guy that's close to what he was prior to the injury, and it would be an additional lift to this rotation," Boston manager John Farrell said.

Boston, which has won 11 of Buchholz's 12 starts this season, took three of four from the Yankees over the weekend and has won three straight road series and six in a row overall.

The Red Sox are 10-6 versus the Rays this season.