Price, Rays go for sweep of Brewers

( - Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price hasn't tasted defeat in more than a month and aims to close out a perfect July Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series versus the Milwaukee Brewers.

Price has won each of his five starts this month and is 6-0 with a sparkling 1.31 earned run average in his last six starts through June 25. Price, whose last defeat came on June 20 versus Houston, allowed three runs in eight innings of Friday's 6-4 win over Boston.

The talented left-hander and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner struck out 10 Red Sox batters and did not issue a walk for a second straight start. Price has walked only one batter over his past three outings, allowing the three aforementioned runs in that stretch.

He has pitched at least eight innings in four straight and eight of nine appearances and the Rays are 7-1 in his last eight trips to the mound. Price has won his last three starts at Tropicana Field and is 5-5 with a 3.38 ERA in 12 starts at home this season. Price won his only start against Milwaukee back on June 22, 2011 in a 6-3 triumph, charged with only two runs in eight innings with 10 K's and a walk.

Price leads the majors with 183 strikeouts and has recorded 10 or more nine times this season. Wednesday's start could also be his last in a Rays uniform with the trade deadline looming.

"I guess we'll have some answers in the next couple of days and see how it goes," Price told the club's website. "Just kind of have to wait and see."

Overall, he is 11-7 with a 3.08 ERA in 22 starts and 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA in his past 11 trips to the mound. Price has thrown at least 100 pitches in his last 18 outings.

Tampa Bay has been playing very well of late, but is seven games out of first place in the AL East and 4 1/2 out of wild card contention. The club is on the verge of sweeping the Brewers and made it back-to-back wins with Tuesday's 5-1 victory, as a four-run bottom of the eighth inning propelled the hosts.

Ben Zobrist and Logan Forsythe both had RBI doubles and Brandon Guyer produced a run-scoring single during the decisive frame for the Rays, who have won 11 of 12 games and are 20-5 since June 28. Zobrist also homered and ended with two runs scored, while starting pitcher Alex Cobb closed out a perfect July with 12 strikeouts across eight innings of one-run ball.

Cobb struck out 10 in seven shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in his previous start last Wednesday.

"That was equally as impressive as his game in St. Louis," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "He had great stuff. The changeup was falling off the table."

Grant Balfour closed the door in the ninth to preserve the win.

The Rays will host the LA Angels next for three games at the Trop.

Milwaukee will try not to lose any more ground atop the NL Central and has lost three straight and four of five games.

In last night's loss to the Rays, Brewers starting pitcher Matt Garza was solid on the mound with seven innings of one-run ball in the no-decision.

Garza played for Tampa Bay from 2008-10.

"It's nice to come here, but not like this," said Garza. "We're in the playoff hunt, and you've just got to keep going, keep grinding. It's a good club we're playing and they're in the same thing we are ... we're all trying to get to October. Right now it's just execution."

Will Smith wasn't fresh in relief and gave up the four runs in the eighth to absorb the loss for Milwaukee, which is now only one game ahead of Pittsburgh and 1 1/2 games in front of St. Louis for the division lead.

The Brewers will visit the Cardinals for three games this weekend and are riding a season high-tying four-game road losing streak.

Yovani Gallardo gets the call for the Brewers Wednesday and he hasn't been nearly as sharp as Price. In fact, Gallardo has posted four straight no- decisions and is 0-1 in his past six starts -- all Milwaukee losses.

Gallardo pitched extremely well in Friday's 3-2 loss to the New York Mets and delivered 7 2/3 shutout innings before the bullpen imploded. He scattered four hits, struck out eight batters and did not issue a walk. Gallardo had given up 16 runs in his previous four starts.

The right-hander, who is 3-2 in nine road assignments and the victim of four blown saves this season, has never pitched against the Rays.

The Brewers and Rays are meeting for the first time since Tampa Bay took two of three matchups back in 2011 at Miller Park.