CHICAGO — David Price had more problems with the home plate umpire than he had with the Chicago White Sox.
The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner accused Tom Hallion of using an expletive after Price threw his last pitch of his first win of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays’ 8-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Hallion called Price a liar.
Facing his last batter of the game in the seventh inning, Price took a step toward the dugout after he thought he threw strike three to Dewayne Wise. After Price retired Wise on a comebacker, Price and Hallion exchanged words as Price walked to the dugout.
Hallion, the crew chief, walked toward Price as the two appeared to be yelling at each other.
“It was a perfect pitch. It is. I really don’t know why he (Wise) swung at the next one, because it was in the exact same spot,” Price said. “I’m walking off the mound I’m just mad at myself. I didn’t say a single word or look at him. He (Hallion) yells at me.”
“My own dad doesn’t speak to me that way,” Price added.
Hallion vehemently denied Price’s claim.
“I’ll come right out bluntly and say he’s a liar,” Hallion told a pool reporter. “I said, ‘Just throw the ball.’ That’s all I said to him.’”
Price disagreed and teammate Jeremy Hellickson, standing along the dugout railing, did as well. Hellickson was tossed after shouting at Hallion from the dugout.
“He was told to knock it off, him and Morse (Matt Moore) were at the dugout rail and I told them to knock it off,” Hallion said, “and he thought it was OK for him to have his final comment, at which time he was ejected.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon was surprised that the mild-mannered Hellickson was thrown out even though Maddon didn’t hear the exchange.
“He’s one of the most vociferous players on our team. He finally had an umpire get him,” Maddon joked. “It definitely led to the victory. Everybody was pumped up at that point.”
Price took to Twitter afterward to continue to press his point.
“1. I am not a liar 2. I would not make that stuff up 3. My own dad doesn’t speak to me that way 4. Again I am not a liar (hash)accountability,” he tweeted.
The postgame spat overshadowed a fine performance for Price. He allowed three runs and six hits, striking out nine in seven innings. The Rays lost all five of Price’s five previous starts this year and were the second team to lose in the first five starts by a reigning Cy Young winner. The Minnesota Twins lost in Frank Viola’s first seven games in 1989.
Price (1-2) walked two and threw 119 pitches but finally he got support from his offense.
After Hellickson was ejected, the Rays rallied in the eighth. Ben Zobrist hit a go-ahead RBI single in a three-run inning spurred by Alex Rios’ error.
Jose Lobaton and Matt Joyce each homered for Tampa Bay, which improved to 4-9 on the road. Paul Konerko hit a two-run home run for Chicago, who are 1-5 against left-handed starters.
Sean Rodriguez led off the eighth with a single off White Sox reliever Nate Jones (0-2) and advanced to second on a wild pitch. One out later, he scored on Zobrist’s single to break a 3-all tie. With two outs and bases loaded, Ryan Roberts hit a shallow fly to right, Rios came charging in, but he had the ball pop out of his glove, allowing two runs to score and giving the Rays a 6-3 lead.
“It’s one of those things that are going to happen occasionally, but if we’re going to get on an extended run of playing well you got to make those plays,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura.
White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. He struck out three and walked one, but he was doomed by the home runs from Lobaton and Joyce.
“They just got the balls up in the air and they carried out. It’s a little bit frustrating with the two-run homer to tie it,” said Aexelrod. “We were in a good position to win the game. It was a tough pitch and he got to it, kept it fair, you got to give him credit for that.”
NOTES: White Sox LHP John Danks will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday with Double-A Birmingham. Danks had shoulder surgery in August 2012.