MLB

Rays-Red Sox Preview

Fresh off defeating one of his former AL East employers, David Price gets a chance to do the same to the other.

Price attempts to remain unbeaten during his brief time with the Boston Red Sox when he faces a few more ex-teammates in Thursday's finale of a three-game series with the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

After delivering mixed results in his first two starts in a Red Sox uniform, Price (2-0, 4.50) looked every bit the part of an expected ace by holding a formidable Toronto lineup in check Saturday. The coveted offseason free agent struck out nine without a walk while allowing two runs over seven innings in a 4-2 victory for his first Fenway Park win with his new team.

Price, who went 9-1 in 11 starts for the defending division champion Blue Jays after being acquired from Detroit last July, bounced back from surrendering five runs in five innings in Boston's April 11 home opener against Baltimore.

"I hadn't thrown the ball the way that I know that I can the first two starts,'' he said. ''To throw the baseball the way I did (Saturday) against the Blue Jays, which is an extremely good hitting team, feels good."

Price now tries to follow that sharp effort by evening his career record against Tampa Bay (6-8), where he went 82-47 and won a Cy Young Award over seven seasons before being dealt to Detroit in July 2014. He lost his first two meetings following the trade before allowing four earned runs through five innings of a 10-8 win with Toronto on Sept. 26.

The Rays, last in the majors with 40 runs scored, were shut out through five innings of Wednesday's 7-3 loss as Rick Porcello fanned nine over seven. They didn't score until the 10th of Tuesday's 3-0 win.

That's been an issue as well during Jake Odorizzi's three starts, in which he's received four runs of support while on the mound. The right-hander didn't get any while limiting the White Sox to four hits in seven scoreless innings of a 1-0 Rays' loss Friday.

Odorizzi (0-1, 2.41) also gave Boston (7-7) trouble last season, posting a 2.29 ERA in three starts and allowing a run over seven innings in a 5-1 win at Fenway on May 4. He's held David Ortiz to 3 for 18 without a home run in their matchups.

Xander Bogaerts is 5 for 14 off Odorizzi, but likely won't play after exiting Wednesday's win with a quadriceps injury suffered while scoring on Ortiz's fifth-inning double.

The Red Sox mustered one hit off Drew Smyly and two relievers Tuesday, but scored five runs on the struggling Chris Archer through two innings Wednesday to halt a three-game skid and end the Rays' three-game winning streak.

''The first inning put the team behind the 8-ball,'' said Archer, now 0-4 with a 7.32 ERA in four starts. ''I didn't execute pitches very well, and they made the most of it.''

Evan Longoria had a club-record 15-game hitting streak at Fenway stopped with an 0-for-4 effort Wednesday. He's 0 for 9 against former teammate Price, but Curt Casali is 3 for 6 and homered twice off Price in a 10-2 win over Detroit on July 28.

Casali is off to a 3 for 24 start, however, and struck out in all four plate appearances Tuesday.

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