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Price taking some pressure off Rays bullpen

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays desperately needed their starter to pitch deep into the game Friday night after each of the starters in Thursday's doubleheader went just 4 2/3 innings.

The team left Boston ecstatic to have swept the Red Sox in a twin bill, but the bullpen paid the price, running on fumes after working a lot of extra innings.

Under those conditions, David Price took the ball and pitched seven strong innings Friday night against the Yankees, using 118 pitches and leaving with a 4-2 lead. Subsequently, the Yankees came back and Price received a no-decision, but the Rays won the game 10-5 in 14 innings.

Price is "good and he knows it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And he's never been one to run away from shouldering responsibility. ... This guy's always accepted weight. So none of that surprises me.

"He's not unique in that regard. There's a lot of pitchers on a lot of different teams that are that same kind of cat. He happens to be ours. I really appreciate all of that because it definitely makes a difference."

Price also is a pitcher who collects innings. Prior to last season when he missed a month while on the disabled list and finished with 186 2/3 innings, the Rays ace finished with 200-plus innings for three straight seasons. Maddon noted what a boost it is to have a pitcher with 200 innings.

"What difference does 200 innings make?" Maddon said. "Well, you can see what it does to a bullpen on a daily basis, giving you chances to win, the ability to win games. ... He's good and he knows it and he really shoulders the responsibility well."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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