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TB@BOS: Price fans 8 Red Sox over 7 1/3 strong frames

The Giants will look to win four straight Saturday for the first time since winning six straight back between April 29-May 5.

San Francisco has struggled recently and sits at the bottom of the National League West as a result.

They'll be in tough against last year's American League Cy Young Award winner, David Price, who's returned to form since returning from the disabled list.

The Rays' Price has won five of six starts since coming back, compiling a 1.68 ERA with three complete games and striking out 35.

"As a starter, you want to win. That's why we go out there," Price said. "That's why we've conditioned ourselves the way we have. The deeper into ballgames you pitch, that's more at-bats for your hitters and more chances to score runs. That equates to wins and that's a part of how I am, how I've been raised, it's how I was in college. I've transformed into that person and I love it."

Price's biggest challenge may come from the Giants catcher and last season's National League MVP.

"You obviously have to think about Buster Posey," Price said. "They have a couple guys in there who are extremely tough. I haven't pitched against them but I feel like I'm somewhat familiar with their lineup because I've seen them a lot in the postseason with two World Series wins. Their team is a lot like ours. They barely made it into the playoffs and won it with pitching and defense. That's why they were there at the end of the year."

Taking the mound for the Giants will be Tim Lincecum, two starts removed from his no-hitter.

His following start was pretty rough, but he settled in for a four-hit, two-run game last time out, striking out 10 over seven innings.

"Timmy threw great," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He also had a couple hits there and he really competed very well.

"I'm very, very proud of Timmy for how he pitched. We just couldn't get him a win."

Giants: Zito moved to long relief
Barry Zito was bumped from San Francisco's pitching rotation in place of Guillermo Moscoso.

Zito was moved to the bullpen after going 4-8 with a 5.09 ERA in 21 starts this season, including a 9.97 ERA in nine road outings. On top of that, the Giants are 2-8 in their last 10 games that the left-hander has started. He's gone 0-5 with a 6.66 ERA in that span.

Bochy said Zito will fill the club's long-relief role, a decision that was spearheaded by the 35-year-old himself.

"He came down yesterday and said, 'If you need help in the bullpen, I'm ready,'" Bochy said Friday.

The reasoning behind the move is partially because of the imminent return of right-hander Ryan Vogelsong from the disabled list.

However, Zito's struggles also played a role.

"It was time to mix it up, change it up," Bochy said.

• Brandon Belt returned to first base for Friday night's 4-1 victory over the Rays, going 3-for-4 with a home run and a pair of RBIs.

However, the hot-hitting Brett Pill, who went 7-for-13 with a home run and four RBIs vs. the Phillies, will likely also see plenty of time at first, including Saturday's game with the lefty Price on the mound.

"We're trying to get the matchups that we want," Bochy said.

Rays: Maddon hoping for encore of impressive July
Since June 29, the Rays were 23-5 prior to Friday's game, tied for the best 28-game stretch in the Majors this season. During that period, the Rays pitched to a 2.49 ERA, lowering their season ERA from 4.22 to 3.76.

Tampa Bay was also 21-5 in the month of July, the best record in club history for any month.

Rays manager Joe Maddon has even bigger plans for August for the club's encore.

Go "22-4," Maddon said. "How many days in August? Just the one-day-at-a-time stuff, man. I think that was really a strong point of ours during the month. Prior to the [All-Star] break, and post break, really just pleased with the daily way of the group. The way we've gone about our business, the way they've played the games, the way they've interacted, all of that has been fabulous to watch."

• Even with the club streaking, third baseman Evan Longoria has struggled.

Longoria has hit .186 since the start of July and struck out a personal record of 39 times during that time.

"It has to be a lot of what he's thinking about," Maddon said. "Primarily, it's the classic moments where you're swinging at balls and taking strikes. He just has to clear his mind a little bit and let it fly. He does not look different from a physical perspective. I think he's just thinking differently."

Worth noting
• The Rays compiled a 2.54 ERA in July, lowest by any AL team in the month of July since the 1971 Oakland A's posted a 2.38 ERA.

• Since the start of 2008, the Rays are 44-19 when facing a former Cy Young winner. They are 6-4 in these games this season with three wins over CC Sabathia, two wins over R.A. Dickey and one over Justin Verlander.

• The Giants have won three straight games for the first time since taking three in a row from the Padres prior to the All-Star break on July 11-13.

• The Giants and Rays are facing one another for the first time in nearly a decade. San Francisco and Tampa Bay last met in 2004 when the Rays took two of three games at Tropicana Field. This series marks just the third time these two teams have played against one another with the other coming in 2002 at AT&T Park, with the Giants holding a 4-3 edge.

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