ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- James Shields kept the Arizona
Diamondbacks guessing all game.
The Tampa Bay rookie allowed four hits in seven innings and
became the first Devil Rays pitcher to begin his career with four
straight victories by beating the slumping Diamondbacks 3-2 on
Wednesday night."He's nasty. What he does is he changes speed," catcher Toby
Hall said of the 24-year-old right-hander. "He has one of the
nastiest changeups in the league that I ever caught or faced. Johan
Santana is the other one."The Diamondbacks did their homework on Shields (4-0), but still
weren't fully prepared."We knew going in he was going to throw a bunch of changeups.
We just couldn't stay back on them," Arizona manager Bob Melvin
said."It's one thing to say you're going to sit there and try and
hit it; it's another thing to stay back on it when you're taught to
hit the fastball. ... He threw just enough fastballs to get us off
the changeup."Shields held the Diamondbacks hitless until the fifth inning and
finished with five strikeouts and three walks.Meanwhile, Rocco Baldelli continued his torrid hitting with a
run-scoring single for the Devil Rays, who improved to 7-1 against
NL opponents after going 3-15 in interleague play a year ago.Baldelli, who missed all of 2005 and the first two months of
this season with a variety of injuries, went 2-for-3 against
Brandon Webb (8-3) and is hitting .388 with two homers and six RBI
in 13 games since coming off the disabled list.Arizona lost for the 14th time in 16 games and remained the only
team that's never beaten the Devil Rays. The Diamondbacks are at
.500 (36-36) for the first time since they were 13-13 on May 1.
They were 34-22 on June 4 before beginning their current slide.Tampa Bay has won seven of 11."It feels good," Shields said. "I came here to help this team
win some games. Hopefully I can keep going. ... There's a good
atmosphere in the clubhouse right now."Shawn Camp pitched the eighth for Tampa Bay and Brian Meadows
worked the ninth for his first save of the season.Webb, who allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings,
dropped his third straight decision after winning eight in a row to
begin the season. He hasn't won since beating Cincinnati 3-0 on May
26, a span of five starts."I don't think he pitched poorly enough to deserve a loss,"
said Melvin, who was ejected during the fifth inning for arguing
balls and strikes. "We just offensively couldn't figure the other
guy out."The Devil Rays scored twice in the second, despite not getting a
solid hit off Webb.Russell Branyan's routine fly dropped for a double when left
fielder Luis Gonzalez lost the ball in the lights and domed
ceiling, then Jonny Gomes reached on a grounder to third that hit
the bag and bounded into the air for a single."I just lost it early," Gonzalez said. "I haven't played a
lot of games here. ... I just lost it. I'm sure I'm not the first
guy that's done it here. It just came at a crucial time for us."Branyan took third on Gomes' hit and scored on a balk. Hall
followed with a soft liner that barely cleared the infield and
rolled into foul territory along the third base line for a
run-scoring double.Baldelli's RBI double in the third made it 3-0.Although Shields held the Diamondbacks hitless until the fifth,
the 24-year-old right-hander was far from perfect in the first four
innings. Besides hitting batters in the first and fourth, he walked
two in the third.Once the Diamondbacks broke through, though, they closed the
deficit in a hurry. Orlando Hudson doubled four pitches after Jeff
DaVanon got the first hit off Shields, driving in Arizona's first
run. Eric Byrnes doubled one later, making it 3-2.
Melvin's ejection was his first this season and 13th of his
career. ... Webb struck out five and walked a season-high four. ...
Tampa Bay has won all five meetings between the expansion clubs,
which both began play in 1998. ... The Diamondbacks placed LHP
Terry Mulholland and RHP Russ Ortiz on unconditional waivers. OF
Scott Hairston was placed on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder
injury and RHP Casey Daigle was recalled from Triple-A Tucson. ...
The Devil Rays signed INF Jason Romano to a minor league contract.
He's expected to join Triple-A Durham on Thursday.