David Price struck out 11 batters before finally giving up a ninth-inning solo homer to Andrew McCutchen as the Rays cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Pirates Wednesday.
Price -- perhaps inspired by the large-ish crowd of thunderstick-banging schoolchildren, who probably made Tropicana Field about ten times as loud as it typically is -- was dominant, walking only one batter and allowing just five hits, four of which were singles.
Charlie Morton himself was very good, setting a career high with 11 strikeouts of his own and only walking one batter. Unfortunately, in the first inning, Desmond Jennings led off with a ground-ball single, and then Ben Zobrist hit a line drive that McCutchen narrowly missed catching. It went for a run-scoring triple. Morton struck out Matt Joyce, but then another run came in on a play in which Jordy Mercer made an error. James Loney then hit a ground-ball single, and Morton hit Brandon Guyer to load the bases. Kevin Kiermaier brought home a third run with a sacrifice fly.
And that was it. Morton could have easily hung a zero in that inning if he'd gotten more help from his defense. Zobrist's liner was a tough play for McCutchen, but a makeable one, and the inning really seemed to turn on that play.
Anyway, there seemed to be little danger that the Pirates would come back after that. Jason Grilli came on in relief of Morton in the eighth and allowed two runs and gave up two line-drive singles, although, to be fair, he struck out two batters, and the two runs came in on a weak liner and a bunt. McCutchen's homer in the ninth wasn't part of any bigger threat, although the Rays finally pulled Price and had Jake McGee get the last two outs.