Price takes the hill as Rays go for fifth straight

The Tampa Bay Rays have had little trouble scoring runs in their last two games.

They hope to continue that production at the plate and give ace David Price the support he’s lacked of late.

Price makes his third bid to join the major league leaders with 15 wins and help the Rays extend their winning streak to five games Saturday night against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Tampa Bay (60-52) completed a sweep of Toronto with a 7-1 win Thursday, then opened a 10-game trip with a 12-6 victory at Minnesota on Friday. Matt Joyce hit a three-run homer and Jose Molina had three RBIs as the Rays won their third straight and ninth in 13 games on the road.

Though Tampa Bay ranks near the bottom of the majors with 460 runs, it feels rejuvenated since star Evan Longoria returned this week after missing more than three months with a torn hamstring.

“If it gives anyone in here a little bit of an edge or a lift or whatever, then I guess I’m doing my job,” said Longoria, who is 5 for 15 with four RBIs in four games since coming off the disabled list.

The Rays hope to stay hot as Price (14-4, 2.49 ERA) tries to join the New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels as the majors’ only 15-game winners. If he earns the victory Saturday, Price will become the first pitcher in franchise history to record two 15-win seasons.

Price is 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA in nine starts since losing at home to the New York Mets on June 13. He’s 5-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his last seven on the road since losing at Yankee Stadium on May 10.

The left-hander has allowed three runs in 15 innings of his last two starts – both extra-inning losses – but his teammates have totaled three runs in those games. He gave up two hits in eight innings of a 1-0 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.

“It was good to see myself go out there and continue to compete,” Price told the Rays’ official website.

He’s 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts against the Twins. Both losses came while posting a 3.86 ERA at Minnesota.

Joyce is 5 for 11 with two homers and five RBIs in three games against the Twins (49-63) this season. He’s batted .313 (5 for 16) with a home run against scheduled Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn (4-7, 7.42), who is 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA in six starts since winning at Cincinnati on June 22.

The right-hander allowed four runs in five innings of a 6-4 loss at Boston on Sunday.

Blackburn has posted an 8.04 ERA while losing three straight starts to the Rays since beating then May 31, 2009.

Joe Mauer had three hits Friday for the Twins, who have dropped two in a row after winning nine of 12. The All-Star catcher is 7 for 15 with three RBIs against the Rays this season, but 2 for 11 with a double against Price.