BOSTON -- David Price had an early exit Friday afternoon as the Red Sox began their 100th anniversary of Fenway Park by defeating the Rays, 12-2.
In losing, Tampa Bay fell to 4-3 on the season and 1-3 on its current 10-game road trip.
Price started the game with a roar, striking out three of the first seven batters he faced while recording two scoreless frames. Meanwhile, the Rays' offense got busy early.
Ben Zobrist led off the second with a single to center off Red Sox starter Josh Beckett. Jeff Keppinger followed with a double down the left-field line that allowed Zobrist to score from first for a 1-0 lead.
Price appeared to strike out Kelly Shoppach leading off the third, but the Boston catcher managed to check his swing. Price then hit him with his next pitch and a Red Sox rally was born.
Jacoby Ellsbury doubled to left and Dustin Pedroia walked to load the bases. Adrian Gonzalez kept the momentum going when he singled to left to score Shoppach. Kevin Youkillis' sacrifice fly scored Ellsbury, and David Ortiz added an infield single that scored Pedroia to put the Red Sox up 3-1.
Price did not return to the mound for the fourth, finishing his afternoon after surrendering three runs on 83 pitches, only 47 of those strikes.
"I felt good today, just didn't have it," Price said. "That's part of it. I'm going to have 33, 34 starts this year, and there are going to be some when I don't have it. My body felt good, my arm felt good. It just wasn't there today."
Over Price's past six regular season games (including the final four in 2011), he has now allowed 15 earned runs on 27 hits and 18 walks in 30 innings pitched. Neither manager Joe Maddon nor Price seemed too concerned about any trends, though Price did sound concerned about his fastball command.
"My fastball location wasn't really where I wanted it," Price said, "and that's my biggest thing. That's what I've got to have, and I didn't have it today."
Pedroia noted that getting Price out of the game early was "huge."
"That's how our offense is," Pedroia said. "We try to wear down the starting pitchers. We weren't doing that the first six games. We have to get back to our approach. It worked out for us today."
Meanwhile, Beckett continued what he started last year, though in a somewhat different fashion.
Beckett made three starts against the Rays in 2011, allowing just two runs in 23 innings for a 0.78 ERA. In short, he was overpowering. But a year had passed and Beckett had gotten roughed up in his first start of the season when he allowed five home runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers.
On Friday afternoon, the Rays teased they would finally have some success against the hard-throwing Texan. But after the second inning, they were not able to mount any kind of offensive surge against a different style of Beckett.
"Obviously he wasn't throwing 96, 97 like he has in the past," Matt Joyce said, "but he's pitching a lot more now. He's using a cutter and a good changeup and a good curveball."
In the end, Beckett earned his first win of the season by holding the Rays to that lone run on five hits and a walk. Beckett likely would have gone the distance had the Red Sox not hit so long in the eighth, when they scored eight runs to eliminate any suspense of a Tampa Bay comeback.
Shoppach helped fuel the Red Sox's attack by reaching base four times and going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs in the process. In addition, Shoppach had his first stolen base attempt and stolen base of his career.
"Awesome, awesome," said Shoppach of the Red Sox's day. "Pitching, defense, hitting, baserunning, that's how you win games. It was nice to score some runs early for Josh. That helped him settle in quite a bit. We haven't been banging the ball around a lot, so it's nice for us to get out there and get him some runs early and let him relax."
Wade Davis fired three scoreless innings of relief, and the Rays were only down, 4-1, as the Sox came to bat in the eighth. Things got out of hand quickly, as Joel Peralta and Josh Lueke combined to allow Boston eight runs in the frame.
Tampa Bay fell to 2-10 in club history as the visiting team for a home opener, and its pitchers gave up 12 runs and 16 hits Friday. The last time that Rays pitchers allowed the Red Sox to reach those marks in the same game was Sept. 11, 2007, at Fenway Park.
"I wasn't displeased," Maddon said. "I wasn't. Again, it's a 4-1 game in the eighth, and then all of a sudden it's a really bad baseball game on the surface. But underneath it wasn't. It was actually a pretty good game. I was not displeased with the at-bats."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.