ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – David Price finally got to finish what he started.
Price threw a four-hitter, John Jaso and Jason Bartlett had two RBIs apiece and the Rays beat Toronto 6-0 on Sunday.
“I’ve always believed that when a young pitcher can throw a complete game shutout it does do something for their confidence,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “And to do it in a minimal number of pitches like that, 108, that’s really good also. I just think it’s a carry-over kind of thing.”
Price (3-1) struck out nine and walked one in his first complete game. He improved to 9-1 in his career against the AL East.
“He probably pitched the best against us (this season),” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “He threw strikes. He kept the guys off balance. He just had good stuff.”
It was Price’s first start since lasting just five-plus innings in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox last Tuesday.
“Now I know what it takes,” Price said. “I’ve been there and I’ve done that now. I’ve got that first little taste in my mouth. Now I want more. On this staff, five or six innings isn’t enough. We want to go seven, eight or nine, and that’s what these guys have been doing all year.”
Carlos Pena opened the fifth by drawing Tampa Bay’s sixth walk off Brandon Morrow (1-2) and then went to third when B.J. Upton got the Rays’ first hit, a double to right. After Pat Burrell struck out, Jaso hit a two-run single.
Pena added a run-scoring double and Bartlett drove in a pair with a double during the Rays’ four-run eighth as Tampa Bay took two of three in winning its ninth straight home series against the Blue Jays.
Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina threw out a runner trying to steal second – including Carl Crawford twice – in each of the first four innings. The four runners thrown out attempting to steal in the same game by Molina set a Toronto team record.
“After the second inning I came in and kind of joked around and said ‘Hey, I’ll just walk them and you throw them all out,”‘ Morrow said.
It was the first time a catcher has thrown out four runners attempting to steal in one game since Florida’s Charles Johnson did it against Montreal on Sept. 18, 2002. Oakland’s Terry Steinbach, on July 31, 1992, against Kansas City, was the last AL catcher to accomplish the feat.
“I don’t look at that personal stuff,” Molina said. “The only thing I care about is the result of the game and it didn’t go our way.”
Tampa Bay entered with 21 stolen bases in 27 in attempts. It was first time in franchise history that the Rays had four runners caught stealing in one game.
Morrow went six innings, giving up two runs and three hits. He struck out eight and walked six.
Price retired 12 in a row before Jose Bautista singled with one out in the seventh. The left-hander got defensive help in the eighth when third baseman Evan Longoria started a double play by diving to his left to field John McDonald’s grounder.
Longoria had an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
NOTES: Molina was “very sore” after being hit by a foul ball near his left shoulder late in the game. … Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 24-9 in the eighth this season. … Navarro was out of the lineup for the second straight game due to lower right leg soreness. … Burrell returned after missing the previous two games with a stiff upper back. … Cuban SS prospect Adeiny Hechavarria worked out with Blue Jays before the game. The 21-year-old is playing with Toronto’s extended spring training team. … Tampa Bay LHP J.P. Howell (strained left shoulder) threw at 60 feet on flat ground. The reliever is expected to be out until mid to late May.