Price is right for 7 innings, Rays beat Pirates

Published Mar. 28, 2012 9:52 p.m. ET

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) -- David Price's longest outing of the spring was one of his best, too.

Price pitched seven strong innings and Luke Scott hit a two-run homer in the Tampa Bay Rays' 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

Not all the news was good for the Rays, though: Center fielder B.J. Upton will start the season on the disabled list with a back injury. Until recently, Tampa Bay had been holding out hope that Upton could be ready for opening day.

Scott went 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Elliot Johnson added a pair of doubles, including a two-run double during a three-run rally in the fourth that gave the Rays a 4-0 lead.

Pittsburgh scored once in the fifth and Andrew McCutchen hit a solo homer in the sixth.

Price gave up two runs and six hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He threw 92 pitches, 59 for strikes.

"David was very sharp," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought he had a really good fastball tonight. He also threw some pretty good cutters to both sides of the plate. Overall, a really strong performance for him."

The left-hander was perfect through three innings, recording three strikeouts as he mowed down the Pirates' lineup the first time through. He yielded only one hit and walked none through the first four innings.

"The curveball wasn't as good as it was the other day, but everything else I thought was just as good if not better," said Price, who used his entire arsenal.

Neil Walker hit an RBI double off Rays reliever J.P. Howell to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 6-3 in the eighth.

Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton, recovering from offseason hip surgery, struggled in his fourth spring start. Morton gave up six runs and eight hits in five innings, increasing his ERA to 7.07.

While Price has the luxury of knowing he's Tampa Bay's No. 2 starter, Morton isn't sure where he factors into Pittsburgh's rotation -- if at all. The Pirates won't need a fifth starter until April 15, and Morton's spring has been slowed as he works his way back from surgery.

"It's a gray area," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think he's making progress. I think we saw him very clean and efficient early. Then I think you saw the one inning fatigued him. He wasn't as sharp. We didn't get him to where we wanted to on his pitch count, as far as getting him closer to 90. But I thought he made some progress. We just have some more work to do. We'll continue to have that discussion."

With spring training winding down, Morton wants to return to the form that made him a 10-game winner last year. But he will have to wait and see.

"I have no idea what they are going to do," he said. "I want to pitch. Obviously I would like to throw another game and see where we are at and make a decision. I understand the situation. I understand that there's plenty of off days coming up. If I'm the guy that they choose to not be up here, there's really nothing I can do about it.

"I'm assuming they've made a decision, and maybe we're waiting to see what happened tonight. I just don't know. ... I'd rather be with the guys," Morton added.

Scott hit an RBI single in the fourth to score Evan Longoria, who led off with a double down the left-field line. In the fifth, Scott hit his second home run of the spring.

"It was nice to see Scotty get on track like that," Maddon said. "He had a really good night."

NOTES: Rays OF Sam Fuld (wrist) will meet with a wrist specialist in Cleveland on Monday and likely have surgery Tuesday. ... Rays SS Reid Brignac (foot) has been cleared to resume playing with the big league club after hitting a home run and playing seven innings in the field in a minor league game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers. ... The Rays optioned RHP Brandon Gomes to Triple-A Durham and reassigned C Chris Gimenez to minor league camp, meaning RHP Burke Badenhop will claim Tampa Bay's final bullpen spot and C Jose Lobaton will be the backup catcher. ... Tampa Bay set the order of its rotation: RHP James Shields, Price, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, LHP Matt Moore and RHP Jeff Niemann. ... X-rays on Pirates INF Yamaico Navarro's left forearm came back negative after he was hit by a pitch and had to leave Tuesday's game against the Phillies. ... Rays RHP Fernando Rodney sustained a bruised right forearm in the ninth inning on Alex Presley's comebacker. ... Walker went 2 for 4 for the Pirates.