Early lead gets away from Shields, Rays
Starter allows Red Sox to rally for tie, lead in the sixth
BOSTON -- Fenway Park is no friend to James Shields.
The right-hander entered Friday night's start with an 0-4 mark at the baseball landmark and gave a good accounting for himself through five scoreless innings before Fenway began to bite back.
That bite resulted in a five-run sixth inning for the Red Sox and Shields' fifth loss in Boston in five career starts here.
"The game is never over until you get the last out here, and we know that," said Carl Crawford, who had three hits. "It happened so quickly. Just one inning, that's all it takes. These guys can strike fast. They did it tonight. They've got a good offense."
That five-run sixth proved to be the main entrée of Boston's 7-3 win in front of a crowd of 37,745. The loss snapped Tampa Bay's three-game winning streak and moved the team to 2-1 on the current seven-game road trip.
Shields appeared to be on cruise control through the first five innings, but Boston got busy in the sixth. Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with an infield single that caromed off Shields' glove to second baseman Akinori Iwamura. Shields then walked David Ortiz to set the table for Jason Bay. After Shields got ahead in the count, 0-2, he tried to slip a fastball by and watched as Bay connected and the ball soared over the Green Monster in left to tie the score at 3.
"[Shields] was going well," manager Joe Maddon said. "The first ball hits off his glove. If it had not been deflected off, he would have had an easy play, and then it made a tougher play, but [Iwamura] didn't make it. And then the walk to Ortiz is a big play. And then you look to the next hitter -- gets an 0-2 count -- and then a home run shows up."
Mike Lowell followed Bay's homer with a double, and J.D. Drew belted a two-run homer to put the Red Sox up, 5-3.
"I thought I had good stuff tonight," Shields said. "The whole game, I was under control with all of my pitches. And that last inning, I think the biggest at-bat of the inning was Big Papi. That's a situation right there where we're up 3-0 and I've got to attack the zone no matter what.
"[Ortiz is] not really hitting too well right now, and you've got to take advantage of that. By him walking right there, you've got to tip your cap to him, taking some good pitches. But I've got to bear down right there and get that out."
Shields said that the home runs aren't the problem.
"It's the three-run homers that kill me," he said. "We're up by three runs, and I walk a guy to get the tying run at home plate, and that's what happens. The home runs really don't bother me as much as the walk."
Shields, who fills the role of Rays ace, felt as though he let the team down.
"Right now, there's been a couple of games this season where I cost the team a chance to win," he said. "If I bear down in those situations, we've got that win, no problem. ... I definitely put this [loss] on me. I made a couple of bad pitches, and it cost us the game."
Bay homered for the second night in a row and for the fourth time in his past five games.
"We certainly didn't do much the first five innings," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "[Shields] is going right through us, and he's pretty economical in his innings. All of a sudden, we get a couple of baserunners, and there's Jason Bay again."
Carl Crawford's speed produced the Rays' first two runs.
After drawing a walk from Red Sox starter Brad Penny in the first, Crawford stole second base, giving him a Major League-leading 21 steals -- and he has yet to be thrown out. He then sped home on Pat Burrell's single to left to put the Rays up, 1-0.
With one out in the third, Crawford hit a ball down the left-field line, and when Bay was unable to snare the ball with a sliding catch, Crawford motored easily into third with a triple.
Evan Longoria's sacrifice fly drove in Crawford to increase the Rays' lead. Jason Bartlett hit an RBI double in the fourth for Tampa Bay's third run.
Penny picked up his third win of the season after pitching 6 1/3 innings. And he got some help from a solid bullpen effort put together by Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez and Jonathan Papelbon, who shut down the Rays for the final three innings.
"[The bullpen was] good," Maddon said. "We got to the point we were working good at-bats, then all of a sudden, toward the end of the game, we got a lot of quick outs -- they got a lot of quick outs on us. ... It was just one of those nights where we were doing pretty well, then all of a sudden -- it happens. It happens in this ballpark."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.