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Rays-Red Sox Preview

AP - Sports

David Price can put himself in the history books Monday night with first place on the line in the AL East between his Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.

Price can become the first starting pitcher in more than 82 years to beat the Red Sox twice in Fenway Park within a five-day span in this makeup game.

Last Thursday's finale of a four-game set between these clubs was postponed due to rain, giving Price (5-5, 3.75 ERA) this unusual opportunity. He pitched a five-hitter in last Wednesday's 5-1 victory over the Red Sox.

The last starter to win twice at Fenway in a five-day span was Rip Collins of the St. Louis Browns, who accomplished the feat on May 14 and 17, 1931.

The left-hander overpowered Boston's hitters last week, relying on a hard mid-90s fastball and sharp slider to lower his career ERA to 1.96 in Fenway Park with a 5-1 mark in nine starts. The ERA is the lowest mark among active pitchers with at least 20 innings at Fenway.

Price is 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts since being activated off the disabled list July 2 after missing more than six weeks with a left triceps strain.

"I didn't know what to expect when he came back," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's just hard to imagine a guy pitching better than he is now. I don't think I've seen it in regards to quality of pitches and stuff, location against a good hitting ballclub."

Price's victory last week pulled Tampa Bay (62-43) within one-half game of Boston (63-43) for the AL East lead. That's the same gap between them now as both clubs took two of three on the road this weekend.

The Rays intend to leave town in first this time.

"Deja vu all over again," Maddon told the Rays' official website. "I was hoping to get up there and see us on top of that (standings) board. We're not, just keep plugging away."

Price has limited David Ortiz to seven hits in 31 at-bats with no homers.

Ortiz went 4 for 4 with a homer in Sunday's 5-0 win over Baltimore. He bounced back after shattering the casing of two dugout phones with his bat after he was ejected Saturday.

"You've got to make sure you don't get out of your game," Ortiz said. "Sometime when you get excited it gets worse. Just go out there like I normally do.''

Price will once again be opposed by Felix Doubront (7-4, 3.78), who allowed three runs over 6 2-3 innings. The Red Sox had won Doubront's previous five starts against the Rays.

The left-hander had been 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his previous six starts, allowing two earned runs or fewer in all of them and winning the last three in that stretch.

Tampa Bay fell for just the fourth time in 25 games with Sunday's 6-5 defeat to the Yankees.

Rookie Wil Myers homered twice and drove in four runs. Myers is 18 for 38 with four home runs and 11 RBIs during a nine-game hit streak.

Red Sox manager John Farrell says he plans to start catcher Ryan Lavarnway to give the night off to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has caught the last five games.

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