Rays 6, Indians 3
Joe Maddon celebrated quietly in his office with a postgame light beer. It would have been understandable if he was spraying champagne.
After nearly five years and 18 straight losses, the Tampa Bay Rays finally won in Cleveland.
''It had to happen at some point,'' said Maddon, the Rays' bespectacled manager. ''I'm glad it happened tonight and we got it over with.''
David Price held it together after a rocky start, getting a three-run homer from Ben Zobrist and a solo shot from Carlos Pena as the Rays ended a losing streak in Cleveland dating to 2005 with a 6-3 win over the Indians on Saturday night.
Price (13-5) trailed 3-0 in the second, but the AL's All-Star game starter settled in. He allowed three hits in seven-plus innings, tied CC Sabathia for the league lead in wins and ended Tampa Bay's five-summers-long winless drought at Progressive Field.
''That's a tough streak to have in baseball, it doesn't matter what team you're playing,'' Price said. ''It's kind of amazing.''
The Rays' last win Cleveland came on Sept. 28, 2005, when they were still known as the Devil Rays and were three years from a World Series visit. It was Maddon's first win ever in Cleveland, snapping a 21-game slide he began as California's interim skipper in 1996.
''I stink here. I'm horrendous here,'' Maddon joked. ''I'm horrible. I didn't know it was as easy as acquiring an Indian and then you have a chance to win.''
Maddon was referring to Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach, who spent 3 1/2 seasons in Cleveland before the Indians traded him to Tampa Bay in December.
''If you can't beat them, have one of them join you,'' Maddon said.
Zobrist's replay-reversed homer off former Rays pitcher Mitch Talbot (8-9) tied it at 3 in the fifth, and Pena's shot put Tampa Bay ahead in the sixth.
Shelley Duncan hit a two-run homer for the Indians.
If the Rays were going to end their Cleveland curse, Price figured to be the guy to do it. But coming off his worst start of the season against the Yankees, the left-hander was in trouble and in a 3-0 hole after allowing Duncan's sixth homer of the season in the second inning.
But after giving up a one-out single in the fourth, he retired 11 straight before being pulled after a leadoff walk in the eighth. Joaquin Benoit gave up a two-out single to Shin-Soo Choo but struck out Carlos Santana on a 3-2 pitch to end the threat.
Rafael Soriano worked the ninth for his 25th save in 27 tries.
Price was pleased with the way he rebounded after giving up seven runs in just five innings in his previous start.
''In New York, that hurt a little bit so it was good to come out here,'' Price said. ''Innings three through seven were kind of good. The first two were kind of shaky. They scored runs in the first two innings and I knew I had to put a stop to it or we were going to lose.''
Indians manager Manny Acta knew his team's puzzling stranglehold over the Rays would end at some point.
''The way you stop streaks is you score six runs and you have David Price on the mound,'' Acta said. ''I'd take that against the '27 Yankees.''
Pena hit his 21st homer in the sixth, when the Rays chased Talbot, who dominated them early but couldn't keep them down for long.
Matt Joyce followed Pena's homer with a double, and with two outs, B.J. Upton's ground-rule RBI double gave the Rays a 5-3 lead and ended Talbot's night. He recorded six consecutive strikeouts against his first seven batters, but was touched up for two homers, two doubles, two singles and five runs against the last nine he faced.
Held to one hit by Talbot through four, the Rays finally got to him in the fifth, scoring three runs - all with two outs - to tie it.
Shoppach, who came to Tampa Bay in the trade for Talbot, singled and Jason Bartlett grounded a base hit to right. Zobrist then lined a 1-0 pitch to left that appeared to clear the wall but was initially ruled in play by the umpires.
After Zobrist hustled into third with a triple, Maddon asked for the umpires to convene, believing the ball had struck the metal railing above the 19-foot-high wall. The umpires left to look at a TV replay and needed only 80 seconds to determine that Zobrist's shot was indeed a three-run homer.
Perhaps wanting to show the Rays what they gave up on, Talbot was dialed in from the start.
He struck out two in the first, the side in the second, and fanned B.J. Upton to start the third, giving him six straight strikeouts - a new career-high for a game - and a share of the club record shared by Bob Feller (1938), Bartolo Colon (2000) and Chuck Finley (2002).
With a chance to break the mark, Talbot retired Shoppach on a grounder to short.
''Coming up with that team, you kind of want to get them a little bit,'' Talbot said. ''I played with most of those guys.''
Notes: Bartlett was hit by pitches in the seventh and ninth. ... Choo made a sliding catch to rob Upton in the fifth. ... Indians closer Kerry Wood, on the disabled list with a finger blister, will throw a bullpen session in the next two days. Manager Manny Acta said the team will evaluate Wood after the workout before determining when he'll be activated. Wood could draw trade interest before the July 31 deadline.