ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- James Shields finally got a win at home, after waiting nearly half the season.
Eight straight Tampa Bay batters reached base to start a six-run third inning that helped Shields and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-4 Friday night."Today was a pretty important game for me, I hit 200 innings and that's one of the goals I reached," said Shields, who has thrown 200 or more innings in three straight seasons. "And got a 'W' finally. It's good to get that off my back and hopefully I can finish up strong."Shields (10-11) had been 0-5 in his previous 10 starts at Tropicana Field since beating Kansas City 3-2 on June 4. He gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings."It's almost like I'm getting stronger towards the end here, which is a good thing," Shields said.Carl Crawford had an RBI triple and Gregg Zaun hit a run-scoring double in the third to help the Rays take a 6-2 lead.Evan Longoria hit his 31st homer of the season and had three RBIs for the AL champs, who won for just the third time in 16 games.Scott Richmond (6-10) was pulled after allowing five consecutive hits to start the third."He's been having trouble with his location for a while," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "Tonight was bad location. No control with his fastball."Tampa Bay (75-73) has won two in a row for the first time since beating the Blue Jays on Aug. 24-25."We're rollin' now," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said with a smile.Adam Lind hit an RBI single in the first and Vernon Wells drove in a run with a double during the third as the Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead. Toronto has lost 14 of its last 18 road games.Lind has 104 RBIs this season, including 30 over the last 29 games. Wells has an 11-game hitting streak, and moved past Tony Fernandez into second place on the Toronto career list with 292 doubles.Richmond, 0-5 in eight starts since returning from a biceps injury on July 31, allowed five runs and seven hits over two-plus innings.Longoria, Willy Aybar and Gabe Gross each had an RBI single in the third. The Rays' sixth run of the inning scored when B.J. Upton hit into a double play.The Rays went up 8-2 in the fourth when Ben Zobrist and Zaun both hit run-scoring singles. Gross had a seventh-inning sacrifice fly.Crawford tied his career high with his 59th stolen base when he took second in the eighth before scoring on Longoria's two-run homer. Longoria has driven in 107 runs this season."Just let it go," Gaston said of Crawford's late stolen base in a five-run game. "He [Maddon] runs his team the way he wants to. I run my the way I want to."Crawford had no second thoughts about the play."I just want ahead and stole the base," Crawford said. "I've seen worse. I didn't really think it was a big deal."Tampa Bay's bullpen, which worked the final three innings, has struggled recently, going 2-12 with nine blown saves in 13 opportunities over the past 39 games.Lyle Overbay and pinch hitter Kyle Phillips had RBI doubles during the sixth for the Blue Jays.
Tampa Bay is 12-4 against the Blue Jays this season. ... Rays LHP Darin Downs was one of the players honored as a Tampa Bay minor league MVP. Downs, struck in the head by liner while pitching for Double-A Montgomery on Aug. 17, is expected to be ready for the 2010 season. ... Blue Jays LHP Brian Tallet (bruised right foot) might miss his next start Tuesday. ... Toronto reliever Scott Downs has a hamstring injury and is day to day.