ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Other than perfection, one couldn't have asked David Price for more than what he gave in his first start against his former team.
The Detroit Tigers lefty pitched his first career one-hitter and retired the final 23 batters he faced, after the Tampa Bay Rays scored an unearned run in the first inning. The proved to be the difference as the Tigers lost, 1-0, on Thursday afternoon.
Both teams combined for just five hits in the game.
Rays right-handed starter Alex Cobb limited the Tigers to two hits over seven innings. He gave up two walks, one intentional and had six strikeouts.
"You really can make the argument that he pitched better than the winning pitcher, despite the fact that Cobb pitched outstanding as well," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of Price. "Very efficient. Changeup looked really good today. The arm action on the changeup was really good with Price. Had we tied it, he would have gone out for the ninth. Who knows, maybe the 10th."
Ben Zobrist reached on an error with one out in the first inning for the Rays. Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who didn't play in the first two games of the series, threw too high to first after fielding a grounder. Brandon Guyer then hit an RBI triple.
"I knew which pitches I could throw and which pitches I shouldn't throw," Price said. "Guyer, I know I shouldn't throw him a backdoor cutter and I did. It was a good pitch and he hit it well."
Guyer said he was glad he could get the big hit for his team.
"That at-bat, I got to two strikes and when I get to two strikes, I try to spread out and let the ball travel," Guyer said. "If I get beat in, I get beat in, but I just really wanted to get the ball get there. If I don't have that approach, I'll probably roll over on that cutter but I let it get deep and took it the other way."
Price didn't allow another hit the rest of the game. He struck out the final two batters he faced in the eighth inning. Curt Casali swung and missed a changeup to end the inning. That was Price's ninth strikeout and it came on his 100th pitch.
He was given a standing ovation as he walked back to the visitor's dugout.
The Tigers acquired Price at the trade deadline July 31 in a three-way deal with the Rays and Seattle Mariners.
"I appreciated it," Price said of the ovation. "I spent a long time here. Those fans pat our backs through the ups and downs. It's always a good feeling when the opposing fans cheer for you. ... Honestly, that was something I really never thought I'd have to do, not pitching against these guys in this ballpark or really pitching against them at any time. Now that it's over with, I've thrown in every AL park as an opposing pitcher now, so that's cool. They played my walkout song when I went out there, so that's cool. They kept cheering. Kind of had to step off (the rubber). That was a good feeling."
It was the second consecutive game that the Tigers saw their starter retire at least 20 consecutive batters. Rick Porcello retired 20 straight in Wednesday's 6-0 win.
Price didn't have a single three-ball count.
The Tigers had runners on first and second with none out in the third, but Raja Davis grounded into a double play and Ian Kinsler grounded out to third.
Torii Hunter led off the seventh with a double to right and went to third on Miguel Cabrera's ground out to second. The Rays intentionally walked Victor Martinez. J.D. Martinez struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt and Nick Castellanos flied out to center.
Cabrera singled with one out in the ninth. Victor Martinez flied out to left and J.D. Martinez popped out to second to end the game.
"We feel bad, man," Hunter said. "We should have at least scored one or two for Price. This guy goes a complete game and loses. That sucks. But it shows how well Cobb was pitching, as well."
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