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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Price felt he’s never pitched better. He still lost.

Price gave up an RBI triple in the first inning for the only hit he allowed in his first start against his former team, but the Detroit Tigers lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 Thursday.

Price (12-9) retired the next 23 batters after Brandon Guyer’s hit gave Alex Cobb all the support he needed. Price never even went to a three-ball count in the superb outing.

“I definitely threw the ball well enough to win, but (Cobb) threw the ball even better,” Price said. “I knew which pitches I could throw and which pitches I shouldn’t throw. I shouldn’t throw Brandon Guyer a backdoor cutter and I did, and it was a good pitch and he hit it well.”

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Ben Zobrist reached on a throwing error by shortstop Eugenio Suarez before Guyer’s hit into the gap in right-center. Price struck out nine in his eight-inning complete game.

Cobb (9-6) allowed two hits, walked two and struck out six over seven innings, improving to 7-0 in his last 10 starts. After Brad Boxberger worked out of an eighth-inning jam, Jake McGee got three outs for his 14th save and completed a four-hitter.

“You’re talking about almost a no-hitter,” Torii Hunter said of Price’s effort. “I wish we would have scored at least one run. It’s really frustrating. Of course, it’s a good game both ways, a good pitchers’ duel, but at least one run.”

Said Tiger manager Brad Ausmus: “You really could make the argument he pitched better than the winning pitcher despite the fact that Cobb pitched outstanding as well.”

Price got a standing ovation before the bottom of the first. The left-hander, taken first overall by Tampa Bay in the 2007 draft, was the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner. He said he was not aware that he never had a three-ball count.

“That’s cool,” he said. “We commanded the strike zone today, for the most part.”

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