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TB@CWS: Price strikes out nine over seven innings

Thursday's series finale between the Rays and Blue Jays pits last year's Cy Young Award winners, David Price and R.A. Dickey, against each other.

However, if you look at their 2013 numbers, you wouldn't know that was the case.

The Blue Jays' Dickey and the Rays' Price have had their troubles this season, pitching well under their expectations.

"I don't know what his record is or anything like that, but I know he can pitch better than how he's been pitching and so can I," Price said. "We're both going out there looking to get the ball rolling again and it should be fun."

Tampa Bay's ace is 1-3 with a 6.25 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in seven starts, four of which have been quality outings. His last outing versus Colorado was his toughest.

Price allowed nine earned runs for the first time in four years, giving up 11 hits and issuing walks in 6 2/3 innings.

"I felt fine," Price said. "I just have to make better pitches, especially in those big spots. That's not what I'm doing right now. It's frustrating."

"He didn't have his normal velocity, no question," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Nothing was normal. He was uncomfortable I think with the grip on the balls. Here in this [climate in Denver] it can be different, your hands get dry. It's not about the balls, it's about your hands getting dry and slick. I think that was a problem with him for a while, but he worked through that."

The Rays hope that Price can figure things out Thursday, as Tampa Bay tries to salvage a split of the four-game series at Tropicana Field.

"What's going on is not because of a lack of effort or lack of anything like that." Price said. "I get my work in here every four days then I go out on that mound and compete. That's what I'm going to stick to and I'm confident that my results are going to change very soon."

Dickey, whose struggles are partially to blame on tightness in his neck and upper right back, wasn't much better than Price in his last start versus the Mariners.

The knuckleballer allowed three home runs and gave up seven earned runs in six innings, on six hits and two walks.

"That's one of the curses about throwing a pitch like I do -- if you leave it up, sometimes it's going to get hit out of the park. It just came at some crucial times today," said Dickey, who allowed three homers for the first time since last Aug. 15 against Cincinnati.

Before that outing, Dickey seemed to have settled down a little after a slow start. He had allowed only eight runs over his previous four starts and lowered his ERA from 8.44 to 4.50.

Blue Jays: DeRosa seeing plenty of playing time
• Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa is seeing a lot more playing time recently, even making a rare start at second base on Wednesday.

He has appeared in the last five games for Toronto, two of them starts, and has played a pivotal role during that stretch.

"DeRo had a good spring," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He came in from the get-go, swinging the bat well. One thing about him, he's a steady defender as well. If he gets to it, you're out. And he gets you a good at-bat every time he's up there."

"He's on a nice little roll himself, so take advantage of those at-bats as well. Guys that hang around the game a long time because they know how to play, they know how to play in certain situations, they're not going to make mistakes. Their bodies slowed down, naturally, but you know what? You can count on him."

DeRosa, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI single Wednesday, had gone 5-for-11 with two home runs and six RBIs in his last four games.

Rays: McGee and bullpen struggling
• Tampa Bay's bullpen has struggled this season, particularly Jake McGee.

The Rays have lost a Major League-high 13 games in which they have surrendered a lead. Contributing to that troubling statistic has been the team's once-stellar bullpen, and in particular, Jake McGee, who, in his last eight appearances, has allowed 10 runs on 14 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"The thing about Jake right now, he's been one of the more unlucky pitchers that I've had in a while as a bullpen guy," Maddon said.

"The one pitch I'd like to see him have back was the home run to [Toronto's Colby] Rasmus [on Tuesday]. That was just a nothing cutter. But for the most part, he's had a lot of bad luck balls that have fallen into play."

"What Jake needs now is support, from me and from us. Jake McGee is one of the best left-handed relievers in the American League, maybe in all of baseball now. His confidence is down. He's been shaken a bit. But that's not when you pile on. That's when you help and support."

McGee, who has an 11.25 ERA in 12 innings, went 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA in 69 appearances last season. Including an eye-opening stat where he held right-handers to a .098 batting average.

Worth noting
• Before this series, the Rays had won 17 consecutive home series against the Blue Jays dating back to 2007. Sixteen of those series were at Tropicana Field, while one series was held at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., in 2008.

For the Blue Jays, it marked the third-longest road-losing streak in the history of the AL. The other two skids belong to the St. Louis Browns, who lost 19 consecutive series to the Yankees (1946-51), and 18 series to the Red Sox (1949-53). That streak came to an end after Tuesday's results.

• When Price and Dickey meet on Thursday, it will mark only the third time since the Cy Young was awarded to both leagues (1969) that both winners faced off the following season. On July 15, 1999, the Braves' Tom Glavine faced the Yankees' Roger Clemens, and on Aug. 28, 1989, the Mets' Frank Viola met the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser.

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