ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- David Price's unfulfilling follow-up to his 2012 American League Cy Young campaign took another frustrating, if not ominous turn on Wednesday when he left injured in the third inning of a 9-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field.
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said an MRI performed on Price was "not really awful, in fact, good news," the pitcher called it "as good as it could have been," and the team deemed the injury a triceps strain.
Price will be re-evaluated on Thursday. Maddon said it is too soon to determine if Price will require his first career trip to the disabled list, but said the "temporary inconvenience" will likely prevent him from making his next start on Monday.
Price (1-4, 2.54) walked off the mound flexing his left hand after surrendering a run-scoring single to David Ortiz on a 95-mph fastball. He had felt tightness in his arm, he said, on fastballs four batters prior. "It wasn't excruciating pain, but I've never felt anything like that before," he said.
Maddon and a trainer rushed to ascertain the problem after being beckoned by Price, and the left-hander made no plea to remain in the game.
"Looking at him, I knew he didn't want to throw," Maddon said.
Price left trailing 2-0. Reliever Jamey Wright was hammered, allowing four hits and a grand slam by Stephen Drew that gave Boston an 8-0 lead. Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes also had RBIs for Boston, which had lost three straight games.
"Finally we broke out with the eight runs in the one inning," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "(It) gave us some cushion to allow Jon [Lester] to go out and pitch. More than anything, for our guys to go up and swing with some freedom, take some at-bats with some confidence-a good night offensively, particularly in the one inning."
Red Sox starter Lester was workmanlike in snapping the Rays' six-game win streak, mixing speeds and pitches to quell potential rallies in the middle innings. He allowed two earned runs on eight hits, with five strikeouts in seven innings to improve to 6-0 for the first time in his career.
"I think the biggest thing is I feel really good with my off-speed, my changeup and my curveball," Lester said. "My curveball, especially tonight, it's been a while since it's felt as good as it did tonight."
Price was charged with four earned runs on five hits and a walk in 2.1 innings. Just 37 of his 57 pitches were strikes. It was another facet of a surprisingly poor follow-up to 2012.
The Rays have lost in seven of his nine starts this season and Price has surrendered eight leads over his last six starts and been dogged by questions of about his velocity. His fastball has been tracked at an average of 2.2 mph slower this season than last, when he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 31 starts.
The Rays cut the deficit to 8-2 in the bottom of the third on a run-scoring triple by Desmond Jennings and an RBI groundout by Ben Zobrist.
Will Middlebrooks hit his seventh homer of the year in the eighth off Kyle Farnsworth for a 9-2 Boston lead.
"It goes back to us controlling the strike zone and putting up quality at-bats," Boston manager John Farrell said. "When we're right and we're kind of clicking offensively, it's when we grind deep each individual at-bat."
Maddon said Price gave no indication of trouble before signaling he was in discomfort.
"I thought he was throwing the ball really well tonight. The velocity was good. He threw some good breaking balls. I thought it looked pretty well tonight, pretty good for him and for us," Maddon said.
NOTES: Boston is 3-0 this season when facing a reigning Cy Young Award winner (2-0 vs. David Price, 1-0 vs. R.A. Dickey). ... According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Rays are the first American League team to post at least six consecutive comeback wins since the Yankees (seven) in May, 2009. ... Rays SP Matt Moore is the first American League left-hander age 23 or younger to begin a season 7-0 as a starter since the Red Sox's Babe Ruth, 22, in 1917. ... Boston closer Andrew Bailey is expected to be activated sometime on the current nine-game road trip. He threw a bullpen session on Tuesday at Tropicana Field in his first action since going on the disabled list with a right biceps strain and will work again on Thursday. He is expected to either make a minor league rehab stint or join the Red Sox in Minnesota. ... Dustin Pedroia extended his hit streak to seven games. ... Drew's grand slam was the second of his career. ... The Rays had led in 26 straight games until Wednesday. ... With his 8th-inning single, Rays 3B Evan Longoria has now reached base safely in 38 of 39 games this season and 52 of 53 games dating back to Sep 19, 2012... Rays 1B James Loney went 1-for-3 with a walk, and leads the majors with a .379 batting average.