OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -Joe Maddon poured himself a glass of wine in a paper cup and then set it down next to his lineup card.
The Tampa Bay Rays manager has reason to toast. He has been penciling in winning lineups all year.
David Price scattered three hits over seven-plus innings, Sean Rodriguez hit a two-run double and the Rays improved their franchise-best start with a 4-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
``Any time you get pitching like that you're going to win a lot of games,' A's shortstop Cliff Pennington said. ``He's got good stuff.'
At 22-7, the Rays are off to the best start to a season since the New York Yankees began 23-6 in 2003. Tampa Bay won its fifth straight, 10th in 12 and improved to 13-1 on the road.
Tampa Bay's road start is the best since the Tigers won their first 17 games outside Detroit in 1984.
``We've pitched really well and that's been the key to the whole thing,' Maddon said. ``If you break this thing down, we've gotten hits at the right times. We're off to a good start and our guys like what's going on right now.'
Price (4-1) outdueled Gio Gonzalez (3-2), allowing one unearned run while walking four and striking out six in 7 2-3 innings. Gonzalez gave up three runs on three hits over seven innings, walked five and struck out seven.
``I felt like I was still getting after it,' Gonzalez said. ``It was tough breaks and there's nothing I can do about that.'
After Rajai Davis reached on a fielder's choice in the second inning, Price retired 15 of the next 16 before Jake Fox walked to open the eighth.
Willy Aybar singled in a run in the fourth to put Tampa Bay on the board and pinch-hitter Reid Brignac added an RBI single in the ninth.
Rodriguez had two hits in his previous 17 at bats before his double in the seventh. He was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
``I've been playing against Gio for a while,' Rodriguez said. ``I've played against him since high school. I'm pretty sure he'll be calling me and giving me a hard time. I've had some at_bats against him. It's fun to play against him like that.'
The A's loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth on a pair of walks and Pennington's infield single, which ended Price's night after he threw a season-high 119 pitches.
``I was 0-2 on Patterson in the eighth and lost him,' Price said. ``I messed myself up. If I get him I get to go out for the ninth. That's the way it goes.'
Reliever Randy Choate got Daric Barton to hit a grounder to Evan Longoria, whose throw pulled Carlos Pena off the bag and allowed Fox to score. Ryan Sweeney grounded out to short to end the rally.
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his eighth save in as many chances.
Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist had the night off, with Rodriguez earning a start in the fourth game of Tampa Bay's nine-game stretch out West over nine days. Maddon plans to find some rest for lots of his regulars during this swing. Aybar was set to be off Saturday, with Pat Burrell playing, while first baseman Pena will get a break in Anaheim early next week.
``We're going well right now,' Maddon said. ``I want everybody included. I want everybody to feel ownership right now.'
NOTES: A's LHP Dallas Braden insists his incident with Alex Rodriguez in which the Yankees slugger enraged the pitcher by walking across the mound is ``a done deal for me.' Braden said he doesn't plan retaliation when the Yankees return to Oakland from July 5-7. A-Rod had called Braden's reaction the pitcher's ``15 minutes of fame.' Said Braden: ``Every breathing entity in this world has a right to their opinion. If that's his, so be it.' New York manager Joe Girardi said he's ``not really worried about it.' ... Maddon on an exciting AL East race with the Yankees: ``That's beautiful, I love it. That's going to make for an interesting summer.' ... Longoria was 0 for 1 with three walks, ending his 12-game hitting streak.
The Associated Press News Service
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