Edwin Jackson's pitches were buzzing from the outset, his slider was biting and he had his control. That's how he was able to strike out a career-high 13 and keep the Tampa Bay Rays winless through six games.
"Any time I'm able to go out and get in an early rhythm and get outs quick and attack the strike zone, I like my odds," Jackson said Thursday after pitching the Chicago White Sox to a 5-1 victory in their home opener.
Jackson (2-0) had two strikeouts in each of the first five innings and he walked just one in his eight innings.
"I never really count the strikeouts. I really didn't know how many I had today. I knew I had a lot, but if you asked me an actual number, I probably would't have even been close," he said. "I was able to mix it up a little bit in the count, keep them off balance and put them away when I had the chances to."
The AL East champion Rays extended the worst start in team history — they haven't even held a lead yet this year. Tampa Bay has scored exactly one run in five of its defeats.
Jackson (2-0), who pitched a no-hitter against Tampa Bay last season while with Arizona, allowed four hits in eight innings. He lost his shutout bid in the eighth when pinch-hitter Felipe Lopez doubled and Reid Brignac singled. Johnny Damon flied out to deep right to end the inning.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Jackson was actually sharper Thursday than in his no-hitter when he walked eight.
"Yeah, he was. He had much better command. He really had the slider working today. He was throwing them to good spots," Maddon said.
"He was very good. ... He was getting us out of the zone a bit, but I think that's a tribute to how sharp his breaking pitch was. It does not surprise me that he's turning out this good, we talked about that a few years ago. David (Price) was pretty good, but not as good as Edwin was today."
At 0-6, the Rays have totaled only eight runs and 27 hits this season. They are tied for the worst record in the majors with the only other winless team in the majors, the division rival Boston Red Sox.
"It's a tough game," said Jackson, who pitched with the Rays from 2006-08.
"That's a great group of guys over there, a lot of talent. Sometimes it's just how the ball rolls.'
With a foggy start and a 39-degree temperature at the first pitch, the White Sox reached Price (0-2) for two first-inning runs and finished with 12 hits.
"Nobody cares about how much money you make," Price said. "If you lose, you're not having fun. This isn't fun for us right now. It's terrible."
Chicago played for a second straight game without slugging designated hitter Adam Dunn, who had an emergency appendectomy early Wednesday morning. Dunn dressed for the game and was introduced with his teammates during the pregame ceremony, but there is no timetable for his return.
Rays DH Manny Ramirez missed the game because of a family matter but should be ready for Friday night's game.
Alex Rios hit a two-run double in the first off Price after Juan Pierre singled and Gordon Beckham was hit by a pitch. Rios doubled again in the third and scored on a single by Paul Konerko. Brent Lillibridge and Pierre added RBI singles in the eighth.
"Right now we're hitting in the clutch and that's very important," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, whose team has 45 runs in six games.
"We're mixing in one run here and there. We started right away with Rios swinging the bat and put up a couple of runs. I think every day it's not the same guy every time. Different guys are doing the damage."
Price, a 19-game winner last season, is now 0-4 in four career starts against the White Sox. He gave up nine hits and three runs in six innings.
"I expect to throw a complete-game shutout, that's my mindset going into every game," Price said. "I know I've got to pitch better. I don't care if we're hitting or not, I need to pitch better than I'm pitching right now."
Sam Fuld singled leading off the game and tried to create some offense by stealing two bases. But Jackson fanned Ben Zobrist and got Dan Johnson on a fly ball, stranding Fuld at third. Fuld also walked and stole a base in the third. Jackson then retired 12 straight before B.J. Upton singled with two outs in the seventh.
NOTES: Chicago RHP Jake Peavy, who underwent surgery to repair a detached muscle in his shoulder and then experienced some rotator cuff tendinitis in spring training, is scheduled to throw 75 pitches in a rehab start for Double-A Birmingham on Friday. ... Minnie Minoso threw out the first pitch to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. ... Attendance was announced as 38,579, a sellout. ... Jackson's 13 strikeouts were the most ever by a White Sox pitcher in a home opener. ... Konerko has at least one RBI in each of the first six games.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.