ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price can win without his best stuff.
Price became the AL’s first nine-game winner, backed by three Tampa Bay home runs, and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-1 on Wednesday night with another big night at the plate.
“He was kind of struggling,” Rays catcher Dioner Navarro said. “He didn’t have it, but he gave us a shot. That’s what we asked for. Price has such great stuff. He can get you out anyway. He battled through.”
Navarro, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena hit solo shots for the Rays, who have scored nine or more runs in three consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 29-31, 2008.
Tampa Bay has won the first two games of a three-game set to take its ninth consecutive series from Toronto. Sean Rodriguez had three hits and three RBIs.
Price (9-2) allowed one run and four hits in six innings with five walks and four strikeouts. The left-hander has won all three of his starts this season against the Blue Jays, giving up three runs — one earned — over 23 innings.
“He was a little bit off for his location,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “He threw a lot of pitches, but when we got guys on base he reached back and got a little bit more.”
Price threw 104 pitches. He is 5-0 in six career starts against Toronto.
“I just couldn’t pound the zone as much as I wanted to,” he said. “That was my biggest problem.”
Blue Jays right-hander Shaun Marcum (5-3) lasted just four innings, giving up seven runs and 10 hits. He entered 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA in six previous starts this season after a Toronto loss.
“They’re a good team. I don’t know what else you can say about them,” Marcum said. “They find ways to put the barrel on the ball. One through nine they’re a good lineup.”
Navarro hit his first homer since Oct. 3 during a two-run fourth. Zobrist and Pena went deep on consecutive pitches from reliever Shawn Camp in the fifth.
Pena, with four home runs over the last three games, tied Aubrey Huff’s team record of 128 career homers.
After not allowing more than one home run in 15 straight games, the Blue Jays gave up two on Tuesday and three Wednesday.
Kelly Shoppach had an RBI single and Rodriguez hit a run-scoring double to put the Rays up 2-0 in the first. Shoppach hit a sacrifice fly, Rodriguez had another RBI double and Zobrist drove in a run with a single to make it 5-0 in the third.
Rodriguez added an RBI single during the sixth.
Toronto loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but failed to score when Mike McCoy struck out and Fred Lewis hit a grounder to second. Lyle Overbay had a run-scoring double in the sixth.
The Blue Jays have been outscored 19-1 over the last two games. Toronto has just nine hits, including four on Wednesday, in its last three games.
“Right now we’re struggling with the bats. We’re struggling with the pitching,” Gaston said.
NOTES: It was Tampa Bay’s 2,000th regular-season game. The Rays are 865-1,135. ... The Blue Jays activated RHP Jesse Litsch (right elbow surgery) from the 60-day disabled list and optioned LHP Rommie Lewis to Triple-A Las Vegas. Litsch will replace LHP Brian Tallet, who will move to the bullpen, in the rotation. ... Tampa Bay director of scouting R.J. Harrison planned to begin contract talks Wednesday with representatives for first-round draft pick Josh Sale.