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TEX@TB: Price fans six over six strong innings

David Price will start for the Rays against Johnny Cueto of the Reds on Friday night during their Interleague contest in Cincinnati.

In Price's last start on Saturday against the Rangers, he snapped a streak of six consecutive starts in which he had allowed two runs or fewer, which had moved him to within one start of matching the franchise record.

Price, who had been fighting a fever entering his last start, received a no-decision after allowing three runs on six hits in the first two innings. Over his final four frames, he allowed one run on three hits.

"I was healthy last time; I just didn't feel very good," Price said while noting the difference between the two.

In preparing for the Reds, the Rays left-hander plans on picking the brain of teammate Ryan Hanigan, who came to the Rays from the Reds in an offseason trade.

"I faced these guys in 2011," Price said. "They have some of the same, kind of the core group there. For the most part, I watch a good amount of baseball so I've seen them take quite a few swings, have quite a few at-bats as well. So I'll just throw my game, if that doesn't work out at the beginning, I'll adjust from there."

From watching the Reds, Price has gained a healthy respect for the lineup he'll be facing.

"Votto, Bruce, Brandon Phillips," Price said. "I don't know how people overlook Brandon Phillips. He's a good hitter, he drives in a ton of runs, he's got power to all fields. Billy Hamilton, he's breaking through right now. If you walk the guy you it's essentially a triple. So their lineup's tough."

Cueto has made two excellent starts (three earned runs in 14 innings pitched), but he has no wins. The right-hander is not worried about his bad luck, though.

"I feel very good. I hope that I can continue to pitch like that," Cueto said.

Hanigan will be making his first return to Cincinnati since being traded to the Rays. Reds manager Bryan Price weighed in on Hanigan.

"Certainly a lot of our success from a pitching perspective came from the job Ryan did with our pitching staff," Price said. "He was a guy that went from being a second catcher to a guy that became our No. 1 guy."

Price noted that Reds pitchers liked throwing to Hanigan.

"I felt like there were times in his career in Cincinnati where he was very, very good at being a pitch ahead of the hitter and reading approaches," Price said. "He's one of those guys we didn't want him to fly by the seat of his pants but felt like at times that he could. He could see adjustments.

"He could call the right pitch, and there is something special about that. He had a good rapport with the pitching staff. I'm sure he's doing a nice job in Tampa."

Rays: Price ready to hack

Rays pitchers have been taking batting practice the past couple of weeks in anticipation of their early-season Interleague contest with the Reds.

"I'm looking more forward to pitching, but I'm definitely excited to hit," Price said. "I'm excited to, but I think I know the reality of it. Cueto's extremely tough. Cueto's really good. I just want to have good at-bats. My goal is to get four at-bats. That either means our hitters are raking and we're scoring a whole bunch of runs or I'm pitching deep into the game. So that's the goal for me, to get four ABs."

Price has shown home run power in batting practice, but that has never translated to a Major League home run. But the mention of connecting for a circuit blast prompted a smile from the left-hander.

"That would be cool," Price said. "It's a good park to hit homers in, it's a band box."

Reds: Mesoraco off to hot start

In two games played since his activation from the disabled list, Devin Mesoraco has been strong. The catcher is 4-for-8 (.500) with two doubles and a home run. He hit a two-run homer to left field in the fourth inning on Wednesday to snap a scoreless tie before the Reds took a 4-0 win over the Cardinals.

Mesoraco suffered a strained left oblique in the final week of Spring Training. He spent a three-game rehab assignment at Double-A Pensacola before rejoining the club on Monday.

"It's definitely nice to get off to a strong start. It's such a long season," Mesoraco said. "You try to keep going with your swing, stay where you want to be mechanics wise and go from there."

Worth noting

• By pitching seven scoreless innings against the Royals on Tuesday night, Chris Archer notched his 16th career quality start (in 29 career outings) and his second in as many starts this season.

• Tuesday night's win over the Royals moved the Rays to 19-19 in 1-0 games in franchise history. They have won their last three such games after losing five straight from Aug. 5-Oct. 2, 2012.

• Reds reliever Nick Christiani was a teammate of Price's at Vanderbilt University.

• The Reds are 8-1 all time vs. the Rays. Cincinnati took two of three at Tropicana Field during their last meeting in June 2011. Comments