BOSTON — They are the two highest paid players on the Boston Red Sox roster.

For his $30 million this season, David Price made 11 starts.

For his $22 million, Hanley Ramirez batted .242 with 23 home runs in 133 games.

“It’s been a tough year, a long year,” Ramirez said. “But it’s not about me. It’s about the team.”

Ramirez and Price helped the team keep its season alive Sunday afternoon.

Ramirez went for 4 for 4 with a double and three RBI, and Price was the savior out of the bullpen, doing what no Boston pitcher had been able to do – hold down the Astros for a bunch of innings. With his team clinging to a one-run lead, Price threw four scoreless innings.

And Price made it clear: He does not like being in the bullpen. Price has been limited this season by injuries and was turned into a reliever when he came off the disabled list in September.

“I can do this as a starter, too,” Price said. “I just haven’t done it yet. Period.”

Whether Price was referring to this season or his postseason record as a starter (0-8, 5.74) wasn’t clear. What is clear is that Price is pitching with a chip on his shoulder, and maybe that’s a good thing.

“Pitching suits me well and that’s what I did,” Price said. “It has nothing to do with relieving or starting. I just threw the ball well today.”

Price was glad he pitched well – “it feels good to put up zeroes in the playoffs,” he said – but he knows why he is making the big bucks.

“If I throw well out of the bullpen, that doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “I (have) to do this as a starter. I know that, y’all know that, y’all write it, and it will be talked about.”

Price, also clearly, continues to hold a grudge against the media.

If that spurs him on, that’s good for the Red Sox.

Price, who threw 58 pitches, could possibly start a playoff game later on if the Red Sox get past the Astros.

“I want to help the team win right now. If it’s coming out of the pen, I’m going to do it,” Price said.

“(But) they know I want to start. They know I want the ball.”

Ramirez also wants to contribute. He is often seen as a bust because he signed with Boston the same time Pablo Sandoval did.

Ramirez production over his three seasons with the Red Sox has been inconsistent, but he still contributes.

“We’re a completely different offensive team when he’s swinging the bat as he did today,” Manager John Farrell said. “He’s had big, career numbers in the postseason.”

In 19 playoff games, Ramirez is batting .373 with 14 RBI – including 6 for 10 this series. As Boston’s young players look for their rhythm (Xander Bogaerts is hitless this postseason, and Andrew Benintendi is 2 for 12), Ramirez is showing the way.

“Just going to keep working,” said Ramirez, who has been bothered by shoulder problems. “Right now, nothing hurts. It’s the playoffs. It’s go time.”

To fire up his team and the sold-out crowd, Ramirez came out during introductions holding a green banner with a shamrock and the words “Believe in Boston.”

“Just trying to wake everybody up,” Ramirez said.

They woke up. Rafael Devers showed his advanced game for a 20-year-old. He drew a walk in the second inning by not chasing an outside pitch with a full count. Then he crushed a hanging slider in the third inning for a go-ahead home run.

“He’s got every tool you can imagine and he loves to swing,” Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said.

Hinch, whose team embarrassed Boston in the first two games of the series, did not act surprised by Sunday’s result.

“This is playoff baseball,” Hinch said. “If anybody thought the Red Sox were going to lay down, they can rethink it.”

There were other signs of life, especially Mookie Betts running down everything in right field. He robbed Josh Reddick of a three-run homer in the third inning, and charged in to prevent a single on Carlos Correa’s line drive in the seventh – Price’s last inning.

“You (have) to have good stuff happen, and we had good stuff happen today,” Price said.

“We’re moving in the right direction. I think we all understand how good of a team we have in this clubhouse.”

The Red Sox are so much better when they get good pitching and clutch hitting. Price and Ramirez did their part Sunday. The high-priced veterans came through.

Now, onto Monday.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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