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BAL@NYY: Gonzalez induces a double play to escape

The Rays have won back-to-back games only once this season, and reigning American League Cy Young winner David Price has yet to secure a victory after notching 20 in 2012.

Both of those things could change Thursday night, when the Rays and Orioles close out their three-game series at Camden Yards. Tampa Bay won, 6-2, on Wednesday night to stop its losing skid at four but has still dropped seven of nine.

Price will take on Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez, as both pitchers face their opponent for the second time this season.

Price held the Orioles to two runs over six innings on Opening Day at Tropicana Field but received a no-decision. He surrendered eight runs in five innings against the Indians in his next outing, doing most of the damage reflected in his 5.82 ERA. The left-hander looked much better Saturday at Boston, striking out eight over six innings and allowing one run on four hits.

Price likes how he is throwing the ball, especially after a productive bullpen session Monday at Fenway Park.

"I think me and [pitching coach Jim Hickey] threw that bullpen at 10 in the morning," Price said. "But it was a very good bullpen in Boston. We just continued to work on some of the same things that we worked on five days prior. And you know, I feel good."

He'll feel better once he locks down win No. 1, acknowledging that the lack of a victory so far gnaws at him.

"It does; I want to win games," Price said. "But most importantly, I want the Rays to win the game when I'm out there on the mound, whether I get the win or not. That doesn't really affect me too much, but I want this organization to get the win when I'm out there. I take pride in it."

Gonzalez will make his 2013 home debut after pitching both of his first two games on the road, including a win over the Rays on April 4. He limited Tampa Bay to two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings in that one.

The right-hander scuffled with his control in a loss to the Yankees on Friday, walking five in six innings, although he still gave up only two earned runs. Efficiency has been an overall problem for Orioles starters, none of whom have lasted seven innings.

"Same thing with us walking a lot of guys," Gonzalez said. "I think we got to minimize that a little bit and be able to go more [innings] than that. Hopefully, we can start to go seven, eight, and try to have the bullpen fresh for other days."

Rays: Escobar trying to work out of slump
Shortstop Yunel Escobar is off to a slow start in his first season with the Rays. An RBI single in three at-bats Wednesday raised his average to .104 and was only his second hit since April 6.

"I'm really disappointed [about the start]," Escobar said through interpreter and teammate Joel Peralta interpreting. "It's the first time in my career that I've started like that. I'm trying my best to get back to where I was. The season is young still, so I hope I will start doing what I can do really soon."

Escobar is coming off a down year in the plate, having hit .253/.300/.344 for the Blue Jays.

Rays manager Joe Maddon was ejected for the first time this season in the top of the fifth inning of Wednesday's game when he confronted second-base umpire Brian Knight after Kelly Johnson was called out on a stolen-base attempt.

Orioles: Markakis enjoying comforts of home
Right fielder Nick Markakis went 1-for-4 with a walk Wednesday, falling short of a multi-hit game for the first time in five home contests this season. He led the Majors with a .625 home average going into the game.

Markakis has hit in 12 of 14 games this season, including five straight. He has reached base safely, via hit or walk, in every game so far.

Nolan Reimold went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Wednesday, continuing the Orioles' struggles at designated hitter. Baltimore DHs are now 3-for-47 (.064) this season, with one home run and one RBI.

Rays DHs came into Wednesday 4-for-42 (.098), before Shelley Duncan went 2-for-3 with a home run.

Worth noting
• Price is 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six career starts at Camden Yards. Collectively, current Orioles are hitting .230 with a .602 OPS against him in 192 plate appearances, with one home run.

• This will be Gonzalez's sixth career start against the Rays. He has not pitched more than three times against any other team. Comments