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TB@BOS: Price dominates Red Sox over eight frames

BOSTON -- David Price finished off what James Shields and Jeff Niemann started on Tuesday by delivering a dominating pitching performance Wednesday afternoon in leading the Rays to a 4-0 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park with 37,747 watching.

The Rays (66-56) claimed the rubber game of the series while moving to within eight games of the Red Sox for the American League Wild Card spot.

Shields pitched a complete-game three-hitter in the opener of the three-game series but took a 3-1 loss. Niemann followed with a three-hit complete-game shutout in the nightcap before Price put the icing on the cake by holding the Red Sox to no runs on three hits over eight innings.

Alas, Price came up an inning short of a complete game, which led a reporter to tease with Shields about whether Niemann and he would allow Price to sit with them on the flight home since Price did not go the distance.

Shields smiled at the question.

"Eight innings of no runs, he can sit wherever he wants to sit," Shields said. "He can take my seat."

After Price departed, Kyle Farnsworth pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in a non-save situation.

If Price had gone the distance, it would have been the first time in Rays history the club received three consecutive complete games from its starters. The last team to accomplish that feat was the A's, who turned the trick July 31 to Aug. 2 last season.

Shields and Niemann set a high bar, but Price managed to walk with his peers while moving to 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox this season.

"Shields and Niemann, they threw the ball outstanding yesterday," Price said. "I knew I needed to come in and give us a very good outing. Obviously, I'm very happy with eight and none."

Tampa Bay pitchers allowed three hits or less in three straight games to Boston, the longest such streak in Rays history.

"That's above and beyond right there," manager Joe Maddon said. "I never envisioned that. Again, that's a testament to our guys."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wednesday brought the first time in franchise history that the Red Sox were held to three hits or less in three straight home games.

"We didn't swing the bats real good the whole series," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "They pitched very well. We didn't have a whole lot to show for it. Fortunately [Jacoby Ellsbury] hit the home run the first game or it would be a worse series. Price is pretty good -- a lot of velocity, movement, changeup; a lot to not like if you're in our uniform."

Boston's only real threat came in the sixth, when Ellsbury hit a leadoff triple to the center-field triangle. But Price struck out Dustin Pedroia looking for the first out before catching a ball back to the box from Adrian Gonzalez, which triggered a rundown that resulted in Ellsbury getting tagged for the second out. Kevin Youkilis then grounded out to first to end the threat.

"Yeah, they have good starting pitching over there," said Carl Crawford of his former club. "That's what keeps their organization going. Those guys, they have some horses over there and they take a lot of pride, especially when they play against Boston. You just have to tip your hat when guys are doing well."

Complementing Price's masterful performance was just the right amount of offense.

Johnny Damon singled with one out in the first and moved to second on the play when right fielder Darnell McDonald mishandled the ball. Damon moved to third on a wild pitch by Red Sox starter John Lackey and then scored when Ben Zobrist grounded out to second base.

B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria added solo home runs over the Green Monster in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to put the Rays up 3-0.

Zobrist used his 40th double of season to drive home Kelly Shoppach in the seventh to push the Rays' lead to 4-0.

"John [Lackey], you want to get him early. He's normally pretty good when he settles in," Maddon said. "I thought his stuff was really good today. Probably the best fastball I've seen him have for a while. ... It was more reminiscent of his days with the Angels, with that fastball with the hard cutter."

Upton, who has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games in Boston since April 18, 2010, noted that the Rays got the big hits when they needed them Wednesday afternoon.

"That's kind of what we're built around here," Upton said. "We're not going to hit a bunch of home runs or anything like that. We're going to get hits when we need to get them, and guys did a very good job of doing that during this series."

Though Maddon wishes his team could play with the same gusto dispatched at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, he spoke glowingly about his team's spirit.

"There's no question when we play in this venue, or the new Yankee Stadium, it should draw the best out of you, it should," Maddon said. "Whatever your best is, it should pull into out of you like a salve or an ointment. And that's what I think happens to us.

"And I love that about our guys. We're not intimidated by either place. We enjoy the moment at both places, and that's what I'm saying, man. If we get these pitchers to stay hot like this and we put the offense together ... it's been done before."

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