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Rays

Despite 6-2 loss, Maddon still has faith in P Shields

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:54 PM

Although disappointed with the outcome, Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn’t necessarily displeased with the performance of starting pitcher James Shields.

Shields, on the other hand, wasn’t thrilled with his performance.

Baltimore scored five times in the fifth Thursday as Shields loaded the bases twice in the inning during a 6-2 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Shields (8-7) struck out 10 but walked a season-high five and hit a batter, along with allowing six hits.

"It came down to three things," Shields said. "Two hits and me walking too many guys. I felt like I was executing my pitches, besides the walks. I left that pitch over the plate to (Adam) Jones and (Chris) Davis hit a pretty good curveball."

Baltimore, which moved a game ahead of the Rays for second place in the AL East, broke a scoreless tie in the five-run fifth.

With one out, Nick Markakis singled up the middle and J.J. Hardy was hit by a Shields fastball. Shields walked Jim Thome to load the bases and Jones followed with a single to left, scoring Markakis and Hardy.

Matt Wieters walked to reload the bases and Davis crushed a double to center, clearing the bases and giving the O’s a 5-0 lead.

"(Shields) had really good stuff," Maddon said. "He just missed some pitches. (Baltimore) did a really good job taking some borderline pitches."

Shields had runners on base in all but one of his six innings. Since there is nothing physically wrong with Shields, Maddon feels he can work through his recent struggles.

"It’s probably a command issue with him," Maddon said. "I think he was trying to get them to chase (with two strikes). To get a hitter to chase, normally it has to start out as a strike and then become a ball. I think some of those were balls out of hand."

After scoring 10 runs less than 15 hours earlier, the Rays struggled against Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Although the Rays had opportunities, double plays ended scoring chances in the first, second, fourth and ninth innings.

"In the first inning, (Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton) get on and (Ben) Zobrist coming up, you feel pretty good about it and the double play hurts that," Maddon said. "And Carlos (Peña) hit the ball well (in the second) — great play by (Mark) Reynolds and turns that into a double play. That’s just unfortunate."

With the double-play help, Tillman cruised through the first six innings, allowing three hits.

"(Tillman) is a confidence guy," Maddon said. "He had good stuff. He threw the ball well. He hit 94 (mph) when he wanted it. He had a nice hook and some good sliders. He’s definitely a more confident pitcher than the last time we saw him."

The Rays finally chased Tillman in the seventh. Ryan Roberts led off with a walk and Peña followed with a ground-rule double that bounced over the left-field wall.

Sam Fuld followed with a double to left-center to drive in Roberts and Peña and end Tillman’s day.

Darren O’Day replaced Tillman and struck out Jose Molina but Elliot Johnson reached on an error to allow Fuld to reach third. O’Day settled down and got Jennings to pop out to first and Upton flew out to center to end the inning,

Baltimore scored its final run on a two-out home run by Davis off Burke Badenhop in the seventh. The run was the first allowed by the Rays bullpen in 212/3 innings, spanning eight games.

The Rays got back-to-back singles from Peña and Fuld to start the ninth but Jose Lobaton, pinch-hitting for Molina, grounded into a double play and Jeff Keppinger, batting for Johnson, grounded out to end the game.

rharmon@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7616

Twitter: RickHTampaTrib

 

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