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Shields stays hot as Rays nip M's

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The way Tampa Bay's bullpen has been performing, right-hander James Shields didn't have to be as sharp as usual to get his AL-leading fifth victory.

Sean Rodriguez and Luke Scott hit home runs for the AL East leaders, and Shields (5-0) weathered a rocky first inning to remain unbeaten with a 5-4 victory against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

Joel Peralta came out of the bullpen to shut down a Seattle threat in the eighth, then worked a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.

"He picked up a real big-league save there with five outs. That was spectacular," manager Joe Maddon said. "Hats off to Joel Peralta. Everything else that happened well or good tonight, it was all about him. He permitted us to win the game."

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Shields allowed four runs and five hits, walked four and struck out 11 in six innings to win his sixth consecutive decision over two seasons, matching the longest winning streak of his career. Kyle Seager hit two home runs off the 2011 All-Star, driving in all of Seattle's runs.

Over Tampa Bay's past 10 games, the bullpen is 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA, 39 strikeouts and five saves. Opponents have 21 hits and scored five earned runs in 31 innings during the stretch.

"We fought until the last out of the game. That's what our team is about, and what we've been doing all season," Shields said. "And again, our bullpen was phenomenal."

Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Blake Beavan (1-4) in the third inning. Scott's solo shot off the Seattle starter glanced off center fielder Michael Saunders' glove before clearing the wall to snap a 4-4 tie in the sixth.

"To be honest, I don't really know what happened there," Saunders said. "I know I got a piece of the ball. That's it. ... It was just one of those plays that happened so fast. I hit the wall and came down without the ball."

The Rays won for the 10th time in 11 games. The Mariners have lost a season-high five straight following a four-game winning streak that included a sweep of Detroit to begin a 10-game, 10-day trip that ends Thursday.

Ichiro Suzuki walked and Jesus Montero reached base on an infield single before Seager's three-run, first-inning home run snapped an 0-for-30 drought with runners in scoring position for the Mariners, who lost the first two games of this four-game series despite outhitting the Rays both nights.

Seager's third home run of the season, a solo shot into the right-field stands, wiped out a 4-3 lead the Rays took on Jose Molina's two-run double in the fourth.

Shields won again, though he was far from his best. Despite posting a season high for strikeouts, his four walks also were a season high and the right-hander allowed a pair of homers for the second straight start. He threw 38 pitches in the first inning -- 119 overall -- before turning over a one-run lead to the bullpen.

Peralta got Alex Liddi to foul out on a 3-2 pitch, then Ben Zobrist made a nice running catch in the right field corner on Justin Smoak's fly ball to shut down the Mariners with the potential tying run on third base in the eighth. With closer Fernando Rodney unavailable because he pitched three consecutive days, Peralta fanned two of three batters in the ninth to pick up his ninth career save.

"Shields usually gives us eight or nine innings. Today he didn't," Peralta said. "The bullpen felt like we've had to back him up, keep the lead and get that win for him."

Notes

  • With 3B Evan Longoria sidelined up to two months with a partially torn left hamstring, Maddon at least temporarily plans to fill the three-time All-Star's position by committee. Will Rhymes started at third base after Elliot Johnson filled in for most of the previous two games. Maddon said Jeff Keppinger and Rodriguez, Tampa Bay's regular shortstop, also could get some starts there. "It's possible to pick somebody," to start on a regular basis, Maddon said. "But I really would anticipate it's going to be a revolving door.
  • The slumping Smoak was dropped from fourth to seventh in the batting order as the designated hitter Wednesday night. He could remain in the No. 7 hole for a while, however manager Eric Wedge stressed that he eventually wants Smoak to return to the middle of the lineup. "I've always been one of his biggest fans. I know he's going to get it done. But right now, he's not getting it done. We're in the business of winning ball games here, so I had to make an adjustment."
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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James Shields strikes out 11 in six innings of four-run ball to notch his AL-leading fifth victory.  (Getty Images)
James Shields strikes out 11 in six innings of four-run ball to notch his AL-leading fifth victory. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

L. Scott
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
Seattle

K. Seager
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 2
RBI 4
 
Seattle Mariners
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Chone Figgins, LF5000030 .198
Dustin Ackley, 2B3000120 .231
Ichiro Suzuki, RF3120110 .312
Jesus Montero, C4110012 .292
Kyle Seager, 3B4234010 .300
Alex Liddi, 1B2010202 .295
Justin Smoak, DH3000114 .184
Michael Saunders, CF4000022 .241
Brendan Ryan, SS3000032 .125
   a- Mike Carp, PH1000000 .000
Totals32474514  
a-grounded out for Ryan in the 9th
Batting
HR - Kyle Seager 2 (3, Shields, Shields)
RBI - Kyle Seager 4 (11)
2-OUT RBI - Kyle Seager 3 (6)
PK - Dustin Ackley (2, Howell)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
PB - Jesus Montero (3)
E - Alex Liddi (2, Misplayed grounder)
Seattle Mariners
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Blake Beavan (L,1-3) 5.1755212 4.45
Erasmo Ramirez 0.2100000 2.45
Charlie Furbush 2000020 5.19
Pitches-Strikes - Blake Beavan 86-51, Erasmo Ramirez 15-9, Charlie Furbush 18-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Blake Beavan 6-9, Erasmo Ramirez 3-0
Batters Faced - Blake Beavan 25, Erasmo Ramirez 4, Charlie Furbush 6
Tampa Bay Rays
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Desmond Jennings, LF-CF3000113 .258
Ben Zobrist, 2B-RF4010001 .200
Matt Joyce, RF-LF3000101 .293
Carlos Pena, 1B4000013 .270
Luke Scott, DH4221001 .275
B.J. Upton, CF2000001 .333
    Elliot Johnson, SS2000000 .148
Will Rhymes, 3B-2B4120010 .500
Jose Molina, C4122000 .213
Sean Rodriguez, SS-3B3112001 .188
Totals3358523  
Batting
2B - Jose Molina (4, Beavan)
HR - Luke Scott (6, Beavan), Sean Rodriguez (2, Beavan)
RBI - Luke Scott (19), Jose Molina 2 (3), Sean Rodriguez 2 (7)
SB - Desmond Jennings (7, 2nd base off Beavan/Montero)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Rhymes-Johnson-Pena
Tampa Bay Rays
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
James Shields (W,5-0) 65444112 3.70
J.P. Howell (H,2) 1100110 2.08
Wade Davis (H,4) 0.1100000 2.25
Joel Peralta (S,1) 1.2000020 5.56
WP - Wade Davis (1)
Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 119-73, J.P. Howell 17-10, Wade Davis 10-6, Joel Peralta 27-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 5-1, Joel Peralta 1-2
Batters Faced - James Shields 26, J.P. Howell 4, Wade Davis 2, Joel Peralta 5
Game Information
Attendance - 9837
Game Time - 3:10
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Al Porter, Third Base - Ron Kulpa