BALTIMORE (AP) — Before he threw his first pitch, David Price had a five-run lead. Although that didn’t change his approach, it certainly made it easier for the left-hander to snag his major league-leading 14th victory.
Price allowed one run over seven innings, Ryan Roberts homered and scored three runs in his Tampa Bay debut and the Rays cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 10-1 on Wednesday night.
Desmond Jennings homered on the game’s first pitch to spark a five-run first inning, and that was all the offensive support Price needed to earn his career-high sixth straight win.
“Our offense has done phenomenal for me all season,” Price said. “Got me five runs right off tonight.”
Not that it mattered when he walked to the mound for the bottom half.
“That’s when you get hurt,” he said. “You still pitch like it’s 0-0.”
Price (14-4) gave up seven hits, struck out 10 and walked none to improve to 9-1 in 11 starts since May 20.
After the big first inning, Roberts connected with a man on in the third and rookie Jose Lobaton added a three-run drive in the fifth for a 10-1 lead.
Lobaton finished with three hits and four RBIs, both career highs. The 10 runs were more than the light-hitting Rays totaled in their previous four games.
“There were a lot of guys who participated well,” manager Joe Maddon said, “but at the end of the day it’s always about your starting pitcher.”
Perhaps, but Roberts deserved a share of the glory, considering he arrived only a few hours before game time after being traded from Arizona late Tuesday night. In addition to his home run, the third baseman scored after being hit by a pitch in the first inning and drew a walk before Lobaton’s first major league home run.
“It feels great,” Roberts said. “First thing was to get here and try to meet as many people as I can. Try to introduce myself to everybody and fit in. Everybody embraced me and made me feel good. So the first thing was out of the way before the game even started. Then, to come out and contribute and play a factor any way possible was nice.”
After spending the past 3½ seasons with the Diamondbacks, Roberts blended in with his new club without a hitch.
“No awkwardness today. Everything ran smoothly, everything moved slowly for me,” he said. “I felt comfortable. Maybe I belong here with this new group of guys.”
J.J. Hardy drove in the lone run for the Orioles, who must win Thursday to avert a three-game sweep.
Jennings set the tone for the game with his leadoff drive against Baltimore rookie Miguel Gonzalez (2-2).
“It is almost like a boxing match,” Maddon noted. “Desmond comes out and throws a jab and it hits. Maybe that staggered (Gonzalez) a little bit.”
With two outs Carlos Pena singled in a run, and Gonzalez hit two straight batters with pitches to force in a run before Elliot Johnson capped the uprising with a two-run single.
In the bottom half, Nick Markakis singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Hardy.
Roberts made it 7-1 in the third with his first AL homer since 2006 with Toronto.
Gonzalez departed two batters later with this horrid line: 2 2-3 innings, seven runs, seven hits, two walks, two strikeouts, two home runs, three hit batters and a wild pitch.
“I didn’t have my stuff tonight,” he said. “I was trying to do my best but it didn’t work out. … I just want to forget about tonight’s game, move forward, and get them next time.”
Lobaton homered off Matt Lindstrom in the fifth after the right-hander walked two batters.
NOTES: To make room for Roberts, the Rays designated OF Hideki Matsui for assignment. Matsui was hitless in 16 at-bats since July 1. … Baltimore C Matt Wieters went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He has one hit in his last 27 at-bats. … It was the 35th time the Orioles reached double digits in strikeouts, most in the AL. … The Rays improved to 18-6 when they get at least 10 hits, but their 24 games with double-digit hits are fewest in the majors. … James Shields will start for Tampa Bay on Thursday, and Baltimore will call upon Chris Tillman to end the team’s three-game skid. … Roberts was the ninth player to man third base for the Rays, most by an AL team since Toronto in 2007. … The Orioles hit four batters with pitches, most by the team since hitting four against Toronto in June 2003.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.