BOSTON -- For the second straight start, Red Sox ace David Price was on the wrong side of a compelling pitcher's duel, this time taking a 3-2 defeat against Chris Tilman and the Orioles after losing 2-1 to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in San Francisco last week.
But to agonize over that would be to miss the bigger point -- one that could be key to the Red Sox for the rest of the season.
The lefty ace is starting to look much like the pitcher the Red Sox envisioned when they signed him to that seven-year, $217 million contract in December.
Take away the two homers Price served up, and this was perhaps the best game he's pitched for the Red Sox when you consider everything, including the quality of opponent and the fact the teams entered the night tied for first place in the American League East.
Over eight innings, Price gave up five hits and no walks while striking out 11.
"He looked amazing tonight," said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "He was commanding all of his pitches on both sides of the zone, at least from my view out in center field. He really worked his changeup really well. He got a lot of strikeouts. Obviously, that's something he's not paying attention to and he obviously wants to win. I wish we could have got more runs for him."
Over his last seven starts, fueled by improved mechanics, Price is 3-3 with a 2.68 ERA. Prior to that, he was 4-1 with a 6.75 ERA.
"That's the best I've felt with everything that I was throwing in however many starts I've made here, for sure," said Price. "I feel like that was the best stuff I've showcased so far, and I'll continue to get better."
And Price vows he will get better, even though he looks pretty good at the moment.
"I'm better than three runs [allowed], I know that," said Price. "That's what I've done my entire career. Whenever I get eight innings and three runs I'm not going to take that. I'll take my chances and go out there to put up nine zeros. I'm getting there. I know that. This team and this coaching staff has confidence in me and we'll continue to get better."
Manny Machado hit Price's first mistake inside of Pesky's Pole in right in the first to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead.
Price could live with that. The one that irked him was in the eighth. Bradley had just cut Baltimore's lead to 2-1 in the seventh, only for Price to give up a mammoth shot to Jonathan Schoop in the eighth. That misfire hurt even more when the Red Sox came back with another run in the eighth to again cut the lead to one.
"That's an inning I had a chance to put down a shutdown inning and wasn't able to do that," said Price. "I would have been able to put up a zero right there if the bottom half of that inning stays the same, we tie the game up and that's tough. As the game goes on I want to get better and for the most part I did that. But one pitch in this park can lose it for you."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.