HOUSTON -- Entering Tuesday's game, the Astros did not know which version of Tampa Bay starter David Price they would get. Making his first start since returning from a triceps injury, Price showed them the form that made him the American League Cy Young winner last year.
Price fanned 10 in seven scoreless innings, extending a putrid offensive stretch for the Astros as the Rays prevailed, 8-0, on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Houston has now been held scoreless in 28 of its last 29 innings and has met or lowered its run total each game since scoring six times June 23 against the Chicago Cubs.
"I think it's called Mr. Price," Houston manager Bo Porter said when asked about being shut out for the second straight game. "That's why he's a Cy Young winner, and he pitched like it tonight."
For the second straight day, the Rays took a patient hitting approach and let the Astros' starter unravel through command issues.
This time, it was Erik Bedard, who entered the game with the third-lowest ERA (3.23) of any pitcher with at least 125 innings of work against the Rays.
But even against a familiar foe, Bedard could not keep his recent string of success going, issuing a career-high six walks and dealing with baserunners from the get-go.
"Six walks?" Bedard said incredulously after the game. "I didn't even know I had six. That's a little too many.
"I just tried to throw strikes, but it wasn't working too good today. I'll throw out in the bullpen and come back ready next start."
The outing halted a run of three consecutive quality starts for Bedard, who dropped to 3-4 on the season.
Tampa center fielder Desmond Jennings slapped Bedard's first pitch for a single and later scored on Wil Myers' sacrifice fly. The opening frame put Bedard on his heels, and the typically steady lefty never seemed to settle down.
Bedard lasted 5 1/3 innings, surrendering six hits and allowing four earned runs, as many as he had given up in his three prior starts combined.
"They're really patient, and they hit lefties good," Bedard said. "I did the best I could, but they were on the ball all night."
Jennings was the one-man wrecking crew, scoring that first run and driving in four more. He plated two with a fourth-inning single and mashed a two-run homer, his 10th of the season, off Houston reliever Josh Fields in the sixth.
"I came up in some good situations," Jennings said. "I've been seeing the ball well. Hopefully we can keep it going. We've all been hitting the ball."
That support was more than enough for Price, who was making his first start since May 15. Prior to the injury, the southpaw had looked like a shell of his dominant self, going 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA.
Price looked like one of baseball's elite arms Tuesday, as he walked none and allowed three hits on just 70 pitches. No Astros hitter reached second base against him.
"He dominated both sides of the plate, hit 95, 96 mph and had his 'A' stuff," Porter said. "When a guy wins a Cy Young and dominates like he can, sometimes you just have to tip your cap and say he took it to us."
The Astros tried to mount a threat in the eighth, putting men on first and second with no outs. But Marc Krauss struck out, and Matt Dominguez and Jimmy Paredes popped out to prolong Houston's scoreless innings streak, which sits at 21.
The Rays added three more runs in the ninth off Astros reliever Brett Oberholtzer, who was making his second appearance this season after being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier Tuesday.
Houston was shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since Texas did so April 2-3.
The Astros are also mired in their worst offensive stretch of the season. They have failed to score in 34 of their last 36 innings and have not plated an earned run in 29 straight frames, spanning back to the seventh inning of Saturday's 7-2 loss against the Angels.
"Everybody's pressing and trying to do a lot," Dominguez said. "You see some good pitchers, and it gets rolling the wrong way for you. That's how it goes. We can't lose confidence, or it's all lost, so we'll come back out ready tomorrow."
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.