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Price tries to hurl Tigers to sweep of former Rays club

(SportsNetwork.com) - Already thrust into the middle of an intense playoff race, Detroit hurler David Price has conceded he may have trouble focusing against his former team on Thursday night.

The Tampa Bay Rays offense can't be too happy to see him on the mound either.

Price will square off against his former teammates on Thursday afternoon looking to pitch the Tigers to a three-game sweep of the Rays.

The left-handed Price gets the call for the finale less than a month after getting traded from the only franchise he had ever known. The Rays took Price first overall in 2007 and he went 82-47 with the club in 175 appearances, all but five of those starts, logging a 3.18 earned run average. He made four All- Star teams with the club and won the Cy Young Award in 2012.

With Price arbitration eligible this upcoming offseason, the Rays made the difficult choice to deal him prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in a three-team deal that netted the Tampa Bay starter Drew Smyly and minor leaguer Willy Adames from the Tigers as well as infielder Nick Franklin from the Seattle Mariners.

Now his fourth start with the Tigers will see him quickly facing off against his former team.

"Pitching against friends is always the worst," Price told Detroit's official website. "I'm definitely going to have to be a little bit more focused on Thursday."

Price, who turns 29 on Tuesday, was 11-8 with a 3.11 earned run average before getting dealt to the Tigers and he allowed seven runs over 14 2/3 innings while striking out 16 in his first two outings with Detroit, both no- decisions.

Price then made his home debut with the Tigers on Saturday and got the win over Seattle, yielding a run on three hits and three walks while striking out seven in eight innings of work.

"I'm a little bit nervous before every start, it doesn't matter how many are in the stands or what level of baseball it is," said Price. "I love this game, and I feel like if you're not a little bit nervous before you probably don't have a pulse. It was a great atmosphere. It was fun and I enjoyed it."

Alex Cobb will start for the Rays looking to avoid his first loss since June 23. The righty is 6-0 in nine starts since with a 2.24 ERA, posting the longest winning streak of his career. Cobb also has tied a franchise record by allowing two runs or fewer in seven consecutive starts.

Cobb is coming off a 5-0 win over the New York Yankees on Friday, when he allowed six hits -- all singles -- and one walk in 7 1/3 scoreless innings. The 26-year-old also struck out eight in moving to 8-6 with a 3.19 ERA on the year.

He faced the Tigers on July 4 for the second time in his career and picked up a victory while logging five innings of three-run ball.

The Rays won three of four in that set in Detroit from July 3-6, but have lost the first two of this series. That includes a 6-0 defeat last night.

Rick Porcello won his 14th game of the campaign, scattering three hits during his third shutout of the season. He retired 20 straight batters at one point.

Victor Martinez provided a grand slam and five RBI, while Ian Kinsler drove in the other run for the Tigers, who have won five of the last seven games.

"Obviously Porcello was the big factor in this game. We can't ask for anything more," said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus. "Of course, the big grand slam from Victor was that big hit we've talked about in the past."

The victory moved Detroit one game ahead of Seattle for the second wild card spot in the American League and also pulled the club within a game of Kansas City for first place in the AL Central.

Jake Odorizzi allowed three runs on five hits with a pair of walks and seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings for the Rays, who have lost four straight.

"We usually play a lot better at home but it's been the opposite this year," said Odorizzi. "It's getting to that time of the year where you can't lose this many games in a row when you're trying to make a comeback."

The Rays activated outfielder Wil Myers, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, from the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday. He went 0-for-3 as the designated hitter.

The Tigers haven't swept the Rays since a three-game series on the road from Sept. 4-6, 2009.

08/21 09:15:09 ET

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