Price, Rays beat Yankees 2-1 for 4th straight win
NEW YORK (AP) David Price can't control the trade speculation. The opposing hitters, he can handle them just fine.
Price came within one pitch of extending his remarkable strikeout streak, yet still did plenty to lead the resurgent Tampa Bay Rays over the New York Yankees 2-1 on a warm Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.
''Stay here, David,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon implored.
James Loney hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth inning and the Rays matched their longest win string of the season. Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig's team record for doubles as the Yankees equaled their worst skid this year with their fourth loss in a row.
Price (7-7) struck out nine - he fanned at least 10 in each of his previous five starts, and was trying to join Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers to accomplish the feat six straight times.
''That would've been cool,'' Price said.
The left-hander gave up four hits and was pulled after seven innings and 119 pitches. He fanned Francisco Cervelli for the second out in the bottom of the seventh, then got two strikes on both Yangervis Solarte and Brett Gardner, missed with a couple of close pitches and couldn't quite get strikeout No. 10.
In 23 career starts against the Yankees, Price has never reached double digits in strikeouts.
The Rays, who spent most of June with the worst record in the majors, have won six of seven. Their recent struggles had fueled talk that Tampa Bay might trade Price before the July 31 deadline.
Price has said that the more the Rays win, the better chance he has of staying with his original club.
''I just play ball,'' the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner said. ''That's my job.''
Jake McGee pitched a perfect eighth and Grant Balfour worked around a pair of walks in the ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances.
Maddon has gone to a closer-by-committee approach. He said he picked Balfour this time because of a bit of ''karma'' - the manager saw the reliever walking his grandmother into the team hotel lobby earlier in the day.
''True,'' Maddon said.
Balfour said his grandmom, in her mid-80s, came from the family's home in Australia to see one game at Yankee Stadium.
''I'm sure she was happy I was able to get in tonight,'' Balfour said.
New York (41-41) has dropped eight of 10.
''The guys we have, they've got to get it done. That's the bottom line,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ''As I said, it's not just a couple of guys going, it's a number of guys.''
''No one is going to feel sorry for you,'' he said. ''No one has a magic potion. You just have to grind it out.''
It was 1-all when Loney hit the first pitch of the sixth from Hiroki Kuroda (5-6) into the Yankees bullpen in right-center field. His fifth home run of the season gave him 11 RBIs in 14 games.
The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria opened with singles and, after Loney struck out, Logan Forsythe hit an RBI single.
A wild throw on a rundown gave the Yankees a run in the bottom half.
Jeter led off with his 534th career double and went to third on Jacoby Ellsbury's single. Price trapped Ellsbury with a pickoff throw, but he was hit in the back by shortstop Ben Zobrist's throw and Jeter scored.
Zobrist is playing shortstop in place of regular starter Yunel Escobar, put on the disabled list before the game because of a sore right shoulder.
NOTES: Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long was ejected in the sixth for arguing balls and strikes from the bench. ... Cervelli nearly tumbled over the dugout railing while catching Zobrist's foul pop in the first. Maddon helped steady the backup catcher, who started in place of Brian McCann. In the ninth, McCann pinch hit and looked at strike three with a runner on first. After hitting just .221 with nine homers and 36 RBIs at the halfway mark, McCann said he's been ''horrible'' this season. An All-Star with Atlanta, he signed an $85 million, five-year deal with the Yankees. Girardi said it was just a regular day off for rest. ''I believe he's going to hit,'' Girardi said. ''At times, I think he's been a little anxious.'' ... Tampa Bay RF Kevin Kiermaier and a couple of Rays got into the World Cup spirit, dying their hair red, white and blue to support the U.S. soccer team. ... Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-7, 4.14 ERA) starts against LHP Vidal Nuno (2-4, 5.42) in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. ... Johnson remains the last pitcher to strike out at least 10 in six consecutive starts. He did it in 2002 with Arizona. The record is eight in a row by Martinez in 1999 with Boston.