All-Star Ortiz homers to back Price's strong start

All-Star Ortiz homers to back Price's strong start

BOSTON -- David Price turned in the type of dominant effort he hopes will be more frequent after the All-Star break, leading the Red Sox to a 4-0 victory over the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

For the first time this season, Price didn't allow a run. The lefty scattered four hits over eight innings, walking one and striking out 10.

"I was never discouraged," Price said. "I never lost confidence in my abilities. My coaching staff and my teammates didn't, either. Just continue to work. I know it's going to happen."

Price returns to ace form heading into break

Once Price (9-6, 4.34 ERA) got through a 27-pitch first inning without giving up a run, he cruised the rest of the day.

"David Price was on," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He made some necessary adjustments from his last start. [He] went to a bunch of changeups, which is uncharacteristic for him. So give him a little credit for changing his game plan."

David Ortiz hit a two-run homer during Boston's three-run first inning and Price took it from there. Brad Ziegler turned in a scoreless ninth, striking out two in his Red Sox debut.

"I felt good, and it was fun to sit and watch David pitch. He was fantastic today," Ziegler said. "I wanted to just try to go out and throw strikes. We've got a lead, be aggressive. I made some decent pitches and then used our defense."

Ziegler makes Red Sox debut

Ziegler shuts the door

Jake Odorizzi surrendered four runs on six hits over five innings in taking the loss, the 22nd in the last 25 games for Tampa Bay. The Red Sox hold a 49-38 record into the break and trail the Orioles by two games in the American League East.

Betts' RBI single

Ortiz finishes strong: Ortiz went the other way for a two-run shot over the Monster in the first for his 22nd of the season. The 40-year-old slugger heads to his 10th All-Star Game leading the Major Leagues in slugging, OPS, doubles and extra-base hits. Ortiz appears to have plenty left in the tank for the second half. According to Elias, Ortiz is the second oldest player to hit 20-plus homers before the All-Star break since Raul Ibanez, who knocked 24 in 2013 as a 41-year-old.

"It's probably beyond our expectations coming into his final season," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He's been so consistent from the final swing of Spring Training against the Twins. [He] seemingly hasn't slowed down one bit and just a powerful, impressive first half of the season." More >

Papi's two-run homer

Guyer HBPs: Price plunked Brandon Guyer twice on Sunday, which translated to 20 times that the Rays' outfielder has been hit by a pitch this season. Guyer leads the Major Leagues in that category, and it's the most any American League player has been hit by a pitch prior to the All-Star break since Boston's Don Baylor got hit 21 times before the Midsummer Classic in 1986.

Guyer's hit-by-pitch

Hill flashes the leather: Aaron Hill continues to look like he'll be a strong fit for the Red Sox. Though he went 0-for-4, Hill made a magnificent diving snare of Nick Franklin's line drive to open the eighth inning.

Hill's diving catch

Andriese does his job: Matt Andriese kept the Rays within striking distance by throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. The right-hander compiled a solid first half, going 6-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 15 games, of which eight were starts.

Andriese is "throwing the ball really well right now, and it's a nice weapon that we'll be able to use in the second half," Cash said.

Andriese escapes jam

"I have a feeling that it will get better, and hopefully the break has a lot to do with that. I know for me, it's going to help me clear some of those negative thoughts of losing and some of the stuff that we've done that really hasn't been what we've preached all of Spring Training and coming into the season." -- Third baseman Evan Longoria, on the Rays' plight. More >

"He did everything but record an out in the field. He's done everything, even with a couple of triples and stolen bases. It is pretty special. Even when he gets out, he hits the ball hard. It's been fun to watch. We just hope he keeps it going." -- Price, on Ortiz

Curt Casali singled off Price to lead off the second inning. He has hit .500 against Price over his career (7-for-14), tied for the second-highest average against Price (minimum 10 at-bats).

The .292 average and .474 slugging percentage the Red Sox have at the break are both third best in club history.

The Rays acquired Jaye Chapman from the Brewers for cash considerations. He has split time between Double-A Biloxi and Triple-A Colorado Spring this season and is a combined 6-1 with a 3.78 ERA in 31 appearances with 10 saves in 12 opportunities.

Rays: Chris Archer (4-12, 4.66 ERA) will get the starting nod when the Rays open the second half against the Orioles in a 7:10 p.m. ET contest on Friday at Tropicana Field. Archer is 7-19 with a 4.31 ERA in his last 34 starts, and the Rays have lost 10 of the last 12 games he has started. Most of Archer's problems have stemmed from ineffective fastball command and getting behind in counts.

Red Sox: Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez will return from Triple-A Pawtucket to open the second half for the Red Sox at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday in the opener of a three-game showdown at Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez was dominant against the Yankees last year, going 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in four starts.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.