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LAA@TB: Price five-hits the Angels for the win

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's offense wasted a few Tuesday night. They hit four home runs, but David Price only needed one.

That's because the 26-year-old left-hander went the distance in a 5-0 Rays win over the Angels at Tropicana Field.

"That was a good one," said Price of his five-hitter. "I needed that. That's a very good hitting team over there, and that was a good step forward."

Price carried a no-hitter through four innings before Mark Trumbo broke the spell with a single to lead off the Angels' fifth.

"He was phenomenal," Howie Kendrick said. "Made his pitches, kept us off-balance all night, threw a lot of off-speed, and he made his pitches when he needed to. We really didn't have a lot of guys on tonight. I think up until the fifth inning, he had a no-hitter going. We got that broken up, but we just didn't get anything going tonight."

Price has now won consecutive games, something he had not accomplished since Aug. 17, when he followed a win at New York against the Yankees with a win at Boston.

Price's complete game was the third of his career, but he had not finished one since 2010; the shutout was the second of his career. He had not had an outing of eight innings or more since Aug. 23. Entering the game, Price was averaging 19.7 pitches per inning. Tuesday night, he averaged 13.2 pitches per inning, finishing his outing with 119 pitches, 80 of which were for strikes.

"I just needed that long outing to get that feeling back," Price said. "It gets old coming out after the fifth or sixth inning. You know, it feels good to give our bullpen the day off and coming off a day off. Hopefully everybody's ready for tomorrow. It's good for our team."

By the time the ninth inning rolled around, the only remaining drama stemmed from the question of whether or not Price would be allowed to complete his gem.

With two out and two on, Price faced Trumbo. Price's pitch count told manager Joe Maddon that Trumbo would be his final batter no matter how much he wanted to see Price finish what he started.

"He was at the end of the leash at that point," Maddon said. "They always do that to me. I'll take it in a win."

Maddon explained his trepidation in letting Price continue to pitch.

"He had an extra day coming into [his start], but he does not have an extra day coming out of it," Maddon said. "If they have an extra day coming out of it, it's a lot easier to feel good about going that extra couple of pitches, but he did not.

"... However, to get to that particular point, he wasn't particularly challenged in the previous innings, either. So there weren't a lot of stressful moments for him prior to that ninth inning. So I felt OK about it."

In victory, the Rays extended their winning streak to three games, moving to 10-7. They have won five of their last six games and they are 6-1 at Tropicana Field this season.

Desmond Jennings cranked up the offense before most of the crowd of 14,933 fans had taken their seats, leading off the first with his third home run of the season on a 3-2 pitch from Angels starter Ervin Santana. As a leadoff man, it doesn't get much better than to work the pitcher to a 3-2 count, then follow that with a home run.

"Yeah, you try and work the count, you always want to work the count, then I got a fastball up to hit," Jennings said. "At 3-2 to lead the game off, I figured he'd throw me a heater. I mean you want to try and throw a strike right there, so I'm thinking fastball."

Santana issued three more homers. Luke Scott hit his fourth in the fourth, B.J. Upton hit his first in the fifth and Carlos Pena hit his fourth in the sixth. Pena's was particularly special, since it was career hit No. 1,000. Upton added a sacrifice fly in the inning for a 5-0 lead.

While Price pitched well, his teammates played stellar defense behind him. Evan Longoria made an outstanding play charging a bunt and throwing out the runner, and Matt Joyce also excelled with a diving catch in right field.

"We pitched and played defense tonight, got some long balls, which is really nice to do," Maddon said. "But we pitched and played defense, and that's why we won that game."

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