By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- David Price has pitched very well over the last month, and he's been dominant against the Cleveland Indians throughout his career.
Perhaps with a chance to become the majors' first 13-game winner, the Tampa Bay Rays left-hander hopes to continue his current run of success while winning his fifth consecutive start against the Indians on Thursday at Tropicana Field.
Just past the halfway point of the season, Price (12-4, 2.80 ERA) has already matched his win total from a disappointing 2011, when he went 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA. Two of the three other current 12-game winners, R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez, also pitch Thursday afternoon against each other.
Price allowed three runs - two earned - and struck out eight in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-3 victory over Boston on Saturday to improve to 4-0 with a 2.29 ERA in five starts since losing to the New York Mets on June 13.
He has looked even better while going 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA in five career starts versus Cleveland. Price has yielded one unearned run and struck out 17 over 13 innings while winning both of his home starts against the Indians.
The All-Star looks to help Tampa Bay (47-45) rebound and split this four-game set after Cleveland used a five-run seventh inning to beat the Rays 10-6 on Wednesday.
Carlos Santana hit a three-run homer in the seventh and finished with four RBIs as the Indians (47-44) improved to 3-3 on a seven-game trip. Asdrubal Cabrera added three hits for Cleveland, which doubled its run total from the previous three games combined.
Batting .225 on the season, Santana's home run was his first since May 15, ending a 40-game dry spell.
"It means a lot to him because I know that's been weighing on him, especially the power drought that he's had," manager Manny Acta said. "It's hard on those guys. He must be feeling a lot better.
"We're so much better an offensive club when Santana is contributing."
Santana is hitting .313 (10 for 32) with seven walks in 10 career games at Tropicana Field. With two hits Wednesday, Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo is batting .385 during a 10-game hitting streak against the Rays.
Luke Scott went 4 for 4 with an RBI for the Rays, who have lost five of seven at home and 13 of 20 overall. Since singling in his first at-bat against Baltimore on June 1, Scott is 12 for 29 in seven games versus Cleveland, but hitless in 41 at-bats versus other opponents.
"I really anticipate he's gonna continue this trend (against Cleveland) the rest of the half, regardless of who we're playing," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website.
Scott is 2 for 2 against scheduled Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez (8-8, 5.09), who allowed a two-run home run to Scott on July 7. Those were the only runs he gave up in that outing, though, as he struck out eight in six innings of a 7-3 win to improve to 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in two starts against the Rays.
Jimenez's next start didn't go nearly as well. The right-hander was roughed up for a season-high eight runs while walking four in 2 1-3 innings of an 11-9 loss at Toronto on Saturday.
"If you are not going to throw 50 percent of your pitches for strikes, it's going to be rough for you," Acta told the Indians' official website. "He's human. He had a bad one."
Updated July 19, 2012