By Darek Sharp (@dareksharp)
On a night where nothing came easy for the Rays, they prevailed 4-3 in a nearly four-hour contest at Baltimore Monday night.
Baltimore left 15 men on base as Rays pitchers continually had to get out of jams. Fernando Rodney gave up a leadoff single in the ninth but catcher Jose Molina wiped out pinch-runner Alexi Casilla with a tremendous throw to second. Baltimore naturally got another runner on before Rodney struck out Danny Valencia and got Nate McLouth to ground out.
David Price labored through five innings where he ran up 99 pitches. Twelve men reached base but 10 of them were left stranded and he got the win. After Price coughed up an early 2-0 lead Matt Joyce got it right back on a two-run homer in the top of the fourth.
Joel Peralta allowed a solo homer to Matt Wieters and then put two more runners on in the seventh with the score 4-3, but Jake McGee got the next batter on a groundout. Then in the eighth Chris Davis doubled -- the ball popped out of left-fielder Jason Bourgeous' glove -- before McGree whiffed Adam Jones and Matt Wieters on mid-90s fastballs.
Pending Boston's late result the Rays could be tied for first in the AL East.
Evan Longoria hit his 25th homer of the year, a solo shot for a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Kelly Johnson's RBI single made it 2-0 but then the Rays went into white-knuckle mode.
Even when Baltimore did score to tie it up against Price it could have been worse. Wieters doubled to make it 2-2 in the third but with runners on second and third, Price escaped further damage. Joyce followed up Yunel Escobar's walk with the go-ahead homer.
Price got consecutive strikeouts to strand two runners in the fourth, the last a 3-2 changeup to Davis. Then in the fifth he wriggled out of a bases-loaded situation on Steven Pearce's hard grounder to Escobar at short.
Later on it was Tampa Bay's turn to waste opportunities, loading the bases in the eighth only to see Escobar line hard into a double play.
Price, who struck out six, improved to 7-5 and Rodney got his 28th save.