ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — David Price was at his Cy Young best for the Tampa Bay Rays, but Houston Astros rookie Jarred Cosart was a little bit better in his major league debut on Friday night.
Price went the distance, giving up eight hits and striking out three. However, the two runs he allowed in the first inning were enough to beat him 2-1 in his economical 87-pitch performance.
He didn’t issue a walk.
“It was a tremendous start by that guy so sometimes you’ve got to just tip your cap, as a hitter, as a pitcher,” Price said after the Astros broke the Rays’ season-best, eight-game winning streak. “I got outpitched tonight.”
Cosart (1-0) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his first outing and held off the Rays just enough to win.
He limited Tampa Bay, which has won 10 of 12 during a 14-game stretch against the American League’s three worst teams, to a pair of walks before All-Star Ben Zobrist singled with one out in the seventh. Evan Longoria grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The 23-year-old right-hander also yielded a single to James Loney in the eighth and was removed after walking pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson leading off the ninth. The rookie threw 96 pitches — 54 for strikes.
Carlos Corporan’s two-run, first-inning single provided all the offensive support Cosart needed to beat Price (3-5).
“That first inning, that puts us in a hole,” said Price, who gave up four singles in the inning. “That’s probably part of the reason Cosart had so much success. I gave him two runs right out of the gate, before he made a pitch.
“I know the difference in having runs, especially if you can get them in the first before you go out there.”
Four of the five Rays who reached base against Cosart were erased by double plays. Jose Veras gave up an unearned run on Luke Scott’s two-out RBI single in the ninth, but struck out Longoria to notch his 18th save.
It was the second straight day that a rookie right-hander made his big league debut against a reigning Cy Young winner. Cleveland’s Danny Salazar took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of the Indians’ 4-2 victory over R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
Cosart was equally impressive after being promoted earlier Friday from Triple A Oklahoma City, where he went 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 18 appearances, including 17 starts.
He began the night by retiring nine in a row before walking Desmond Jennings to lead off the fourth. Wil Myers drew a one-out walk in the fifth, but was erased when Matt Joyce grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“We hit a couple balls hard early. Otherwise the contact wasn’t crisp. I thought this is the part that’s not lining up real well,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “If we were hitting the ball consistently, even hard outs, I would have felt more confident. He had it going on.”
Zobrist hit a one-hopper past diving second baseman Jose Altuve for Tampa Bay’s first hit. Loney singled leading off the eighth, but Houston turned its third double play to thwart the prospect of a comeback.
Despite the rough first inning, Price was solid in his third start since rejoining the Rays from a 47-day stay on the disabled list with a triceps strain. He beat the Astros 8-0 at Minute Maid Park in his return on July 2, then held the Chicago White Sox to one run in a complete game victory last Sunday. Seventy of Price’s pitches were strikes.
“Only 17 balls in the whole game? That’s three (games) in a row he’s been pretty much the same guy,” Maddon said.
The Astros loaded the bases in the first on singles by Jake Elmore, Chris Carter and J.D. Martinez. Corporan’s single to center produced a 2-0 lead.
Houston scattered four hits over the final eight innings, but had only one runner — Matt Dominguez, who doubled leading off the fifth — get past first base.
NOTES: With the All-Star break beginning Monday, Cosart will return to Triple-A Oklahoma City “so he can stay in turn and then hopefully rejoin the (Astros) at some point this year,” Houston manager Bo Porter said. … Astros OF Justin Maxwell, on the seven-day concussion disabled list, is one option to replace Cosart on the roster. … Before this week, only two pitchers had made their big league debuts against a reigning Cy Young Award winner since 2000 — Edwin Jackson for the Dodgers against Randy Johnson in 2003, and John Danks for the White Sox against Johan Santana in 2007. … The Rays went 24-20 while Price was on the DL. … After Tampa Bay pitchers struck out 32 in the final two games of a four-game sweep on Minnesota, Price fanned three on Friday. The franchise record for a three-game span is 42.