ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — David Price matched a sensational performance by R.A. Dickey through four innings. Then things fell apart for the Tampa Bay left-hander.
Dickey allowed only an infield single during his second career one-hitter and broke the New York Mets’ record for consecutive scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory over the Rays on Wednesday night.
Price (8-4), tied for the AL wins lead, allowed a season-high seven runs — all coming in the fifth and sixth — and nine hits in five-plus innings. He walked three and struck out eight.
“I felt in control after the first couple innings and things kind of just spun out of control,” Price said.
Dickey (10-1) became the first 10-game winner in the major leagues and ran his career-best shutout streak to 32 2-3 innings before yielding an unearned run in the ninth. That topped the previous club mark of 31 2-3 scoreless innings in a row set by Jerry Koosman in 1973.
“He was throwing the ball extremely well,” Price said. “He’s been throwing the ball like that all year long. So whenever you pitch against one of those guys you have to go out and throw the ball well. I wasn’t able to do that and that’s why we lost.”
B.J. Upton’s high bouncer to third base in the first inning was the lone hit off Dickey, who set a career best with 12 strikeouts and did not walk a batter. The 37-year-old knuckleballer permitted only one other baserunner, on a throwing error by third baseman David Wright in the ninth.
Wright tried to make a barehand play on the speedy Upton in the first, but couldn’t hang onto the ball.
“A combination of speed and how the ball was hit. … I thought it was a hit,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It was kind of bouncing away from David.”
In his last five outings, Dickey has struck out 50 and walked three. He is 8-0 in his past 10 starts.
“Like a roller coaster,” Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena said of Dickey’s knuckler. “You don’t know what it’s going to do. As much tape as we watched, you could almost expect it to do a couple things. You narrow it down to a few, but those few things are just too much to handle. That was an unbelievable pitching performance.”
Dickey lost his shutout in the ninth. Elliot Johnson reached on Wright’s throwing error then advanced to third on a pair of passed balls by Mike Nickeas before scoring when Desmond Jennings grounded out.
Daniel Murphy and Omar Quintanilla drove in two runs apiece for the Mets. Wright capped a 14-hit outburst with a two-run double in the ninth.
According to STATS LLC, the starting pitching matchup was only the second since 1921 to feature the AL and NL wins leaders during the regular season. The other was Boston’s Josh Beckett and San Diego’s Jake Peavy on June 24, 2007. The Rays said it has only happened three times in the last 50 World Series, with Atlanta’s John Smoltz facing the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte in 1996, Toronto’s Jack Morris facing Atlanta’s Tom Glavine in 1992 and the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax going against the Yankees’ Whitey Ford twice in 1963.
Price limited the Mets to Andres Torres’ first-inning single and three walks until New York finally broke through against him in the fifth, with the struggling Ike Davis and Nickeas leading the way.
Davis, batting .174, doubled to right. Nickeas, batting just .134, followed with his RBI single to drive in the first run of the game. Price struck out Quintanilla before giving up a double to Torres and the two-run single to Murphy that put the Mets up 3-0.
The Rays’ starter departed after giving up four straight hits to begin the sixth, including Rottino’s RBI double and Davis’ RBI single that hiked the lead to 5-0. Quintanilla’s bases-loaded single off Burke Badenhop drove in the final two runs charged to Price, who had allowed a total of seven runs over his previous five starts.
NOTES: Maddon was able to keep his sense of humor postgame, asking reporters if they noticed that Dickey “was tipping all of pitches tonight, too?” … Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist was out of the lineup for the second straight night. The second baseman has a sore right hand that was injured while sliding into second base at Miami on Sunday, but Maddon said Zobrist did not play Tuesday night because he was ill. … Rays DH Luke Scott, who has not started the last seven games, is day to day with a stiff back.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.