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Price aims to keep missing bats in matchup with Yankees

( – David Price leads the major leagues with 144 strikeouts and has posted 10 or more in five straight starts.

The Tampa Bay Rays hope Price can keep it up when they send him to the hill in Tuesday’s middle contest of a three-game series against the New York Yankees. Price is 2-1 in his last three outings and struck out 11 batters across 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball in last Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Pittsburgh.

Price, who has pitched at least eight innings in four straight starts and is 6-7 overall with a 3.63 ERA, has 10 or more strikeouts in eight games this season. The left-hander and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner is trying to become the first pitcher with 10-plus strikeouts in six consecutive starts since Randy Johnson of Arizona in 2002.

Pedro Martinez was the last AL pitcher to turn the trick in 1999. Price is 0-1 in two starts against the Yankees this season and has a career mark of 9-5 with a 3.84 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) in this series. He is 5-2 with a 3.93 ERA in 11 career starts in the Bronx.

Price has never reached double digits in strikeouts against New York and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 10.29 (144 K, 14 BB).

The Rays hope Price can lead them to a fourth straight win and needed 12 innings to take the series opener with the Yanks on Monday. Logan Forsythe had an RBI single in the top of the 12th inning and Brad Boxberger threw two scoreless innings of relief for the win.

Brian Roberts sent the game into extra innings with a home run in the bottom of the ninth off Rays reliever Joel Peralta. Matt Joyce homered and Kevin Kiermaier finished 3-for-5 with a solo home run for Tampa Bay, winners in three straight and five of the last six games.

The Rays are 12-7 since June 11 and 4-1 on an 11-game road trip. They have hit 10 home runs in the last three games and finished with 26 in June.

Chris Archer started for the Rays and allowed two runs in seven innings. The Rays set a major league record for strikeouts in a month with 287, passing the 286 K’s the Chicago Cubs recorded in August of 2002.

New York has lost three in a row and seven of nine games, and Jose Ramirez was dealt the loss for giving up Forsythe’s RBI single in the 12th. David Phelps started for the hosts and allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Roberts had the clutch homer in the ninth and was one of two players (Jacoby Ellsbury) to finish with two hits. Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter each had an RBI for the Yankees, who lost two of three versus Boston over the weekend and are 6-7 in a stretch of 15 straight games against AL East opponents.

The Yankees are 2 1/2 games behind Toronto for the division lead.

“We’ve had our share of issues like a lot of the other clubs in this division,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “We’re still in the thick of it and it’s going to come down to 81 more games.”

Mark Teixeira was 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Monday and had homered in four of his last eight games. However, he has hit safely in 15 of the previous 18 contests.

Hiroki Kuroda draws the start for the Yankees Tuesday and is 5-5 with a 4.23 ERA. Kuroda was 0-2 in four starts until he defeated Toronto on the road June 25, when he gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-3 victory. Kuroda did not figure into the decision of an 11-5 loss at Tampa on April 18 and was reached for three runs in 5 2/3 innings.

The right-hander has a 2-3 record and a 6.94 ERA in six career starts against the Rays and is 3-2 in eight home starts this season. He has pitched at least six innings in five straight and seven of eight starts in the Bronx.

Kuroda is 21-11 with a 2.95 ERA in 41 home starts since joining the Yanks.

The Rays have won five of eight meetings with the Yankees this season and took two of three matchups in the Bronx from May 2-4.

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