Rays-Dodgers Preview

The Associated Press

Carl Crawford is fond of his nine-year tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays, but he's now enjoying his own success with the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers.

He hasn't fared all that well against former teammate David Price, though.

Crawford looks to help Los Angeles earn its 18th victory in 21 games as it hosts Price and the Rays to open a three-game series Friday night.

Before signing a seven-year, $142 million deal with Boston after the 2010 season, Crawford led the AL in stolen bases and triples four times each while helping Tampa Bay reach the World Series in 2008.

He spent 1 1/2 injury-plagued seasons with the Red Sox before being dealt to the Dodgers with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto on Aug. 25. Though Crawford doesn't regret leaving the Rays, he definitely misses the atmosphere.

"(The Rays) have a lot of fun there and that's part of why they win a lot. Personally, I don't think there's another place like that in baseball," Crawford told MLB.com. "It's pretty close to that (with the Dodgers), we have a lot of fun here, too. But the looseness over there, I don't think you'll find that anywhere else in baseball."

Los Angeles (64-50) has surged into the NL West lead with help from Crawford, who is hitting .295 and is 12 for 26 over his last six games. He went 2 for 5 in Thursday's 5-1 win at St. Louis.

Crawford, though, is 0 for 9 against Price, who has nothing but praise for his former teammate.

"Just being around (Crawford) for four years, ever since I knew that guy, (I watched) how he went about his work, his work ethic," Price said. "It's good to see guys like that succeed."

Price (6-5, 3.36 ERA) has had his own string of success, going 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA over seven starts since returning from a triceps injury. He's tossed three complete games in that span and nearly recorded a fourth Saturday against San Francisco as he allowed one run through nine innings, but the Rays needed 10 to pick up a 2-1 victory.

The left-hander had gone nine frames three times in 129 starts prior to his current stretch.

He'll look to help Tampa Bay (66-47) get back on track after it fell 9-8 to Arizona on Wednesday for its fourth defeat in six games.

James Loney went hitless and is just 2 for 22 over his last six, but he's still hitting .307. He hit .284 while spending his first 6 1/2 seasons with the Dodgers before being sent to Boston in last season's blockbuster. He signed a one-year deal with Tampa in the offseason.

"It doesn't surprise me that he's having the success he's having, because he was good for the Dodgers," teammate Evan Longoria said.

Loney will look to end his slump against Chris Capuano, who is 2-0 with a 1.90 ERA in his last four starts for Los Angeles.

Capuano (4-6, 4.16) hasn't allowed a run in 13 innings over his last two outings after giving up six hits in 6 1-3 frames of Saturday's 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.

"For me, he's attacked with his fastball more and continued to use that and not always get to his off-speed,'' manager Don Mattingly said of the left-hander. "I just think he's used his whole repertoire.''

These teams have split six all-time matchups, though they haven't met since 2007.

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