Rays hand Price ball against Orioles
Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner David Price faces the Baltimore Orioles for the 15th time on Monday night when the Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game series with their wild card pursuers at Camden Yards.
The Rays enter the week with the No. 1 slot in the AL's wild card playoff chase, which they hold by a half-game over Oakland and three games over the Orioles.
Tampa Bay is just a game out of first place in the AL East, where they trail the Boston Red Sox. The Orioles are third in the East as well, 4 1/2 games off the pace.
Price has won six of eight career decisions against Baltimore while posting a stingy 2.60 earned run average and striking out 87 batters in 93 1/3 innings of work.
He last faced them on April 18 at Camden Yards and emerged with a no-decision after allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings of a game the Rays lost, 10-6.
He met them with similarly unsatisfying results 16 days earlier in Florida, where he gave up two runs on seven hits in six innings while getting no verdict in another Rays loss, this time 7-4.
Price is unbeaten in his last six overall starts, defeating Toronto and Boston twice on the road, then racking up no-decisions against San Francisco, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Seattle.
In that six-game stretch, he's pitched at least seven innings in each outing and lowered his ERA from 3.94 to 3.28.
He's faced by red-hot Orioles righty Chris Tillman, who's lost just once in his last 10 starts since mid-June.
The 25-year-old, who won a career-best nine games last season in 15 starts, rattled off consecutive defeats of Toronto, Texas, Boston and Seattle between July 12 and Aug. 2 while allowing a total of 11 runs in 26 1/3 innings.
He's strung together a pair of no-decisions in last two starts while allowing three runs on nine hits in 14 innings against San Francisco and Arizona.
In 10 career meetings with Tampa Bay, he's 2-5 with a 4.77 ERA.
On Sunday in St. Petersburg, Jose Lobaton's first career game-ending home run sent Tampa Bay past Toronto, 2-1, in the rubber match of a three-game set.
Lobaton, who tripled in the winning run during Friday's series-opening 5-4 win, took a Brad Lincoln (1-2) offering over the wall in right with one out in the bottom of the 10th to give the hosts the series victory.
Jake McGee (3-3) tossed a scoreless top of the 10th for the win. Evan Longoria's first-inning home run was the only other offense for the Rays, winners in four of their last five.
In Baltimore, Chris Davis hit his MLB-leading 45th homer of the season, Scott Feldman tossed 6 2/3 solid innings and the Orioles beat the Colorado Rockies, 7-2, in the rubber match of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
Davis went 4-for-5 with three runs scored for the Orioles, who have won two in a row since a four-game skid. Adam Jones went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, Brian Roberts knocked in two runs and Alexi Casilla added an RBI.
Feldman (3-3) allowed two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking two.
The Rays and O's entered their series in a 135-135, which began in 1998. The Rays have won seven of the first 12 games with the Orioles in 2013, including two of three in Florida when they last met from June 7-9.