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TB@SEA: Price strikes out 12 in complete-game victory

On Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field, in the second game of their series against the Red Sox, the Rays will send their ace to the mound against a man who once had that title with the Padres.

David Price is 4-4 with a 4.28 ERA this year. Countering the Tampa Bay lefty and trying to even the series after a 1-0 Rays walk-off win on Friday will be Red Sox righty Jake Peavy, the former Padres star, who is 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA.

Peavy pitched six innings or more and gave up two runs or fewer in four of his five April starts, and ended the month with a 2.87 ERA, but he's struggled in May. Opponents are hitting .310 against him and he has a 6.35 ERA in four starts.

He lost to the Rays on May 1 despite his best start of the month -- he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Price hasn't pitched against the Red Sox in 2014, his slot not having aligned with Tampa Bay's previous series in Boston.

This season, Price has pitched like an ace at times and struggled in others -- and his last outing was one of the "others."

Price gave up six runs (five earned) and 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Angels on May 18. There have been concerns that he is leaving too many balls over the plate.

Price has a 77-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and in May he has struck out 30 and walked only one. But it's possible that that's not completely a good thing, which Price acknowledged before Friday's series opener.

"I definitely take pride in commanding the strike zone, and I feel like I've done a very good job of it this year -- I just need to pick my spots more when to throw a strike, I guess," Price said.

Is he throwing too many strikes?

"Could be, absolutely," Price said. "I mean, these guys, I think they know I'm throwing the ball over the plate, and they want to go up there and hit."

Price's starts against the AL East have matched his up-and-down season. In two of his four divisional starts, he pitched seven-plus innings of two-run ball. In the other two, he only lasted five innings, and gave up six runs in one of those starts, against the Yankees on April 17.

Rays: Hanigan taking it slow and steady
• Catcher Ryan Hanigan, who started Friday, has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury this week -- and although he is getting better, he is not yet at 100 percent.

"He's doing well," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's not 100, but it's getting pretty close to 100."

Hanigan left last Friday's game against the Angels with right hamstring soreness, and he missed the next two before returning against the A's on Tuesday as a ninth-inning substitution.

He started Wednesday's game against Oakland and caught all nine innings, but sat out the series finale. Hanigan called the off-day Thursday "precautionary."

When Hanigan sits, Jose Molina starts. Molina is having a tough season at the plate, hitting .121, but Maddon said he will continue to spell Hanigan until he is back to full strength. Hanigan will be available to pinch-hit or as a defensive replacement in those games.

"I'm going to try to not push him too hard right now, so you're probably going to see more alternating back-and-forth right now," Maddon said. "The games that he doesn't start, he's able to come in, but I don't want to start pushing him back-to-back yet."

Red Sox: Holt could be earning keep
• When given the opportunity, Brock Holt has played well, and he was in the leadoff spot for Friday night's game against the Rays.

Is there a chance Holt could stay in the Majors when Stephen Drew rejoins the team and Will Middlebrooks (fractured right index finger) is ready to come off the disabled list?

"Well, he's played shortstop enough in Triple-A for us to get a read on it, and since he's come over in the trade, his defense on the left side of the infield has improved," manager John Farrell said. "He's doing everything in his power to increase those chances. He's handled the bat well, played good defense at third base."

Worth noting
• Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar notched his 1,000th career hit in Thursday night's game, a seventh-inning RBI single.

• Injured Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, who threw the first live batting practice session of his rehab on Thursday, said he felt fine Friday afternoon, having only the usual day-after soreness.

• Middlebrooks underwent additional imaging on his fractured right index finger on Friday. When the Red Sox get the results, they will have a better idea of how soon he might be able to come off the disabled list.

• Boston's David Ortiz is the oldest player to have 11 home runs this early in the season since Barry Bonds had 12 through 46 games in 2007. Big Papi is 38. Bonds was 42.

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