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Price ready to redeem himself in Game 5

Price ready to redeem himself in Game 5

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yes, David Price was stung by the way he pitched in Game 1 of this Division Series against the Rangers, and angry with himself that he put his team in a hole. And that's why he is so grateful that his teammates have given him a golden chance at redemption.

Again, Price will be matched with Cliff Lee, the Rangers' ace who has been a postseason hero the last two years. But this time, in a winner-take-all Game 5 back at Tropicana Field, Price hopes he is the lefty ace who comes out on top.

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"Obviously, I don't want to have to pitch against a guy like Cliff Lee every time," said Price. "But it's fun -- it is. This is what you grow up as little kids seeing, growing up watching all the games, the postseason games and World Series games, and you see matchups like this. Now that I get to be a part of one, I need to kind of grasp it and take control of it and give us a chance to win."

He knows he didn't do that in Game 1, and Lee and the Rangers came through with a 5-1 win. After Tampa Bay lost again in Game 2, Price's mood only soured more. But he perked up a little after Matt Garza's victory in Game 3, and even more when Wade Davis pushed the series to the limit on Sunday.

"It was pretty rough. It stung a little bit," Price said. "I definitely wanted to give us a better chance to win. I wanted to throw better for myself. I wasn't able to do that. And they got the ball back in my hand, and I appreciate that. And I am looking to coming in on Tuesday and throwing a good game for us."

It wasn't as if Price was awful in Game 1. He just didn't live up to his standards, allowing nine hits and five runs (four earned) while walking none and striking out eight in 6 2/3 innings. He knows he'll need to do better against Lee.

What did he learn from Game 1?

"I learned they will swing 3-0," Price said. "That's for sure. I will not change anything up. I don't feel I had my good stuff on Wednesday, and I am looking forward to coming in on Tuesday with my better stuff."

Rangers vs. David Price
Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina have had the most success of Rangers hitters against Rays left-hander David Price.
Player AB H AVG HR RBI
Elvis Andrus 10 3 .300 0 1
Andres Blanco 2 0 .000 0 0
Julio Borbon 0 0 .000 0 0
Jorge Cantu 9 0 .000 0 0
Nelson Cruz 7 3 .429 2 3
Jeff Francouer 3 1 .333 0 1
Esteban German 0 0 .000 0 0
Vladimir Guerrero 10 3 .300 0 1
Josh Hamilton 10 2 .200 0 0
Ian Kinsler 9 3 .333 0 1
Bengie Molina 4 3 .750 1 2
Mitch Moreland 0 0 .000 0 0
David Murphy 5 1 .200 0 2
Matt Treanor 0 0 .000 0 0
Michael Young 11 2 .182 0 5
* includes postseason
Now that the Rays have regained their swagger as a team, the 25-year-old Price will try to get his back. During the regular season, he was 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA. That included a glittering September, when Price went 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA.

"You know what, I think he's ready, I think he's excited about it," said Rays first baseman Carlos Pena. "Who else would we want taking the mound than Pricey? We're really excited; we're really excited to be in this position. I think it should be a lot of fun."

Price has pitched in a do-or-die game before, albeit in a different role. In Game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Series, Price came out of the bullpen and baffled the Red Sox. A September callup at the time, he pitched his team to the World Series in the process. And now the lefty will try to punch his team's ticket to another ALCS -- this time against the Yankees.

"I mean, every bit of postseason experience I had before this I can take something away from," Price said. "This is loser goes home. This is a very big game for us. Everybody knows that. But I'm not trying to do too much. I will try to stick to my game plan and see what works."

That much-used word this time of year -- momentum -- sure seems to be on the side of the Rays entering the series finale.

"You have to think we do, absolutely," said Price. "They came in and won the first two games at our place, and then we came in their place in a hostile environment and won two games. We battled back late yesterday, and our bats came alive all game today. That was huge. We've been struggling a little bit as a team -- pitching, defense and hitting. And the last 12 innings, we really kind of gelled together and it has showed."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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