NEW YORK (AP) –– David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday in one of the closest votes ever.
Price beat out 2011 winner Justin Verlander by only four points in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Other than a 1969 tie between Mike Cuellar and Denny McLain, it was the tightest race in the history of the AL award.
Runner-up two years ago, Price was the pick this time for the league’s top pitching prize. He received 14 of 28 first-place votes and finished with 153 points. Verlander was chosen first on 13 ballots.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney got the other first-place vote and came in fifth.
Price went 20-5 to tie Jered Weaver for the American League lead in victories and winning percentage. The 27-year-old lefty had the lowest ERA at 2.56 and finished sixth in strikeouts with 205.
Verlander, also the league MVP a year ago, followed that up by going 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and pitching the Detroit Tigers to the World Series. He led the majors in strikeouts (239), innings (238 1-3) and complete games (six).
Price tossed 211 innings in 31 starts, while Verlander made 33. One factor that might have swung some votes, however: Price faced stiffer competition in the rugged AL East than Verlander did in the AL Central.
Weaver came in third with 70 points, but was listed second on a pair of ballots. The right-hander threw a no-hitter and had a 2.81 ERA in his first 20-win season but missed time with injuries and totaled only 188 2-3 innings for the Los Angeles Angels.
The top pick in the 2007 amateur draft out of Vanderbilt, Price reached the majors the following year and has made three straight All-Star teams.
Despite going 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA in 2010, he finished a distant second in Cy Young voting to Felix Hernandez, who won only 13 games for last-place Seattle but dominated most other statistical categories that year.
Verlander was trying to become the first AL pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Youngs since Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000. San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum did it in the National League in 2008-09.
The NL Cy Young winner was to be announced later Wednesday.