ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay's David Price had the A's talking to themselves Friday night as the red-hot Rays, owners of the best record in baseball, defeated the A's, 7-2.
"I heard three different guys come back to the bench saying, 'He didn't give me anything to hit,'" said Brandon Inge, who went 0-for-4 and struck out twice as Price fanned a dozen A's and allowed just three hits and one run over eight innings to raise his record to 5-1 with his fourth win in a row.
"He kept nicking the corners. He was that good. He pitched like an ace tonight. He didn't miss his spot all night," said Kila Ka'aihue, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. "He had like three fastballs and all three were above average."
"Electric stuff, absolutely," agreed former Ray Jonny Gomes. "When I left in 2008, he was just rearing back and chucking. He didn't have much command of his offspeed stuff. Twelve strikeouts, one walk pretty much speaks for itself."
"He's the type of guy who, when he's spotting his fastball, he's going to force you to make adjustments," explained A's manager Bob Melvin. "And when you don't, you see what happens."
Price and teammate James Shields are the only two five-game winners in the American League.
"Out of all my starts this year, I feel like this was the best that I've felt," Price said. "It was the best fastball command I've had all year."
"He was fantastic," declared Rays manager Joe Maddon. "And he's still learning to utilize all of the things he's learned over the last couple of years. The biggest thing is, he's become a better strike-thrower, period. The next step is to learn how to use all the weapons he has at his disposal."
The Rays have now won 10 in a row at Tropicana Field and are a Major League-best 13-1 at home this year.
The success of the Tampa Bay Rays doesn't come as a surprise to Melvin.
"They've always done the little things and done it rather uniquely here," the A's manager said. "Hats off to what they've been able to accomplish here."
Meanwhile, the A's offensive struggles continue. Their team batting average is now .212, the lowest in the American League.
"You mix up the lineup, you try to match up as best you can on a particular day," Melvin said. "We're still doing some decent things other than hitting, but we expected to swing the bats better than we have to this point."
Kurt Suzuki, in the Oakland lineup despite being hit on the hand with a pitch on Wednesday night, doubled Gomes home in the second inning to give the A's a brief 1-0 advantage.
But Tampa Bay answered with three runs of their own in the third, thanks to an RBI double by B.J. Upton and a two-run single from Luke Scott, and added four more in the fourth, ending Tyson Ross' efforts for the evening. Jose Molina homered with Will Rhymes aboard to put the Rays in front, 5-1, and another double by Upton and a single by Matt Joyce produced two more runs.
It was the shortest outing of the year for the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Ross, who was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on April 17.
"I didn't do a good job of getting ahead of the hitters and inducing ground balls," Ross admitted. "I didn't do a good job of being down in the zone. I think they are the hottest team in baseball right now, but I know I didn't put my best foot forward out there. And they definitely made me pay."
"It all revolved around his fastball," Melvin said. "Suzuki called for some pitches and they weren't getting there. He's got to be more consistent than that."
Cliff Pennington led off the ninth with his first home run of the season against Rays reliever Brandon Gomes.
"It was good to see him drive the ball," Melvin said. "He's been battling, battling. He never loses his focus. It was good to see him get rewarded."
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.