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Price fans eight in five strong against Twins

In second spring start, ace backed by Escobar's 2-for-3 day, Moore's two-run shot

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays snapped a two-game losing streak with a 7-1 win over the Twins on Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park.

David Price made his second official start of the spring after throwing a simulated game on Thursday due to a rainout.

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The Rays ace allowed a home run to Jason Kubel on a 1-0 pitch in the second, but otherwise looked sharp during a five-inning stint in which he allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out eight.

"It got better as the game went on, absolutely," Price said. "The first two innings, I kind of felt like I did 10 days ago -- couldn't slow myself down on the mound. Made some adjustments with [pitching coach Jim Hickey] and [Jose] Molina, and after that second inning, I felt pretty good."

Eight strikeouts? Kind of surprised by that? What was working?

"My cutter and my slider were really good -- throwing it to the back-door side to a righty and then throwing it in to a righty as well. It's something I've been working on that was really good today. And my curveball, it's definitely the best it's been in six months."

Ricky Nolasco started for the Twins and allowed an RBI double to Yunel Escobar in the second. David DeJesus singled him home to give the Rays a 2-1 lead.

Nolasco, who will likely be the Twins' Opening Day starter, allowed two runs on four hits while striking out one in four innings.

The Rays scored at least once in each of their last four innings.

Scott Diamond took over for Nolasco to start the fifth, and he got into a bases-loaded jam that saw Molina score on a sacrifice fly, but escaped further damage by retiring Evan Longoria on a ball back to the mound for the third out. The Rays tacked on one more against Diamond on Matt Joyce's groundout in the sixth.

In the seventh, Jeremy Moore knocked a two-run homer -- his second of spring -- off Twins reliever Ryan Pressly, and in the eighth, Curt Casali's double off Caleb Thielbar drove in Brandon Guyer.

Up next: Nathan Karns will start Wednesday afternoon when the Rays travel to Dunedin to play the Blue Jays in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Karns, who was acquired in a trade with the Nationals, is in competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Also slated to see action are right-handers Mark Lowe, Josh Lueke, Kirby Yates, and Steve Geltz, along with left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser. Right-hander Marcus Stroman is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays. Listen to the game live on Gameday Audio.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for

Tampa Bay Rays, David DeJesus, Yunel Escobar, Jeremy Moore, David Price