<
>

Rays' James Shields falls 2 outs shy of shutting out Red Sox

BOSTON -- The Tampa Bay Rays needed a strong pitching
performance to avoid a four-game sweep by the hot-hitting Boston Red Sox.

They got it from James Shields.

Shields allowed four hits -- all singles -- in 8 1/3 innings, and
the Rays beat Boston 1-0 Monday after being outscored 31-11 by the
Red Sox in the previous three games.

"It was my job to stop the bleeding," Shields said. "We had a
rough three games and they were hot. They were swinging the bats
pretty well."

Boston had a chance to tie it in the ninth when Shields (2-0)
left after walking Dustin Pedroia.

Fernando Rodney got his fourth save in four opportunities when
he retired Adrian Gonzalez on a groundout that sent Pedroia to
second, walked David Ortiz intentionally, then got Cody Ross on a
called third strike. Ross slammed his helmet and argued with
home-plate umpire Larry Vanover that the last two pitches should
have been balls.

"To me it's unacceptable," Ross said. "If I'm up there
striking out every at-bat, I'm going to get benched. They are
not accountable."

The only run came when Daniel Bard (0-2) walked Evan Longoria on
four pitches with the bases loaded in the seventh.

The traditional Patriots' Day home game began at 11:04 a.m. The
holiday observed in Massachusetts and Maine marks Paul Revere's
ride and the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775.

"We absolutely needed something like that today. James did not
disappoint," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I really liked the
bounce back (at) 11 o'clock in the morning. After losing three
games in a row here, a lot of teams would give up at that point.
Our guys didn't."

The loss was Bobby Valentine's first at Fenway Park as Boston's
manager. Fans booed when he went back to the dugout after lifting
Bard for Justin Thomas following the run-scoring walk. Bard also
walked the previous batter, Carlos Pena, on four pitches.

"It was the wrong decision, obviously," Valentine said. "I
wanted to let him know right there that I thought he could get
himself out of a jam."

The boos likely were prompted by an interview aired on WHDH-TV
Sunday night in which Valentine questioned Kevin Youkilis'
commitment to the game. He apologized to his third baseman, a fan
favorite, on Monday. Valentine had said he didn't think Youkilis
was "as physically or emotionally into the game."

Maddon got his 500th win as a manager, all with Tampa Bay, as
the Rays stopped a four-game losing streak.

"I just happen to be the steward of this group," he said.
"Better baseball players make you a lot smarter manager."

Shields retired the first four batters before Ross' broken-bat
single off the pitcher's glove. The next six Red Sox made outs
before Gonzalez singled to left. He was erased on a double-play
grounder in the fourth.

Shields walked Nick Punto with two outs in the fifth, allowed
singles to Pedroia in the sixth and Ross in the seventh and walked
Pedroia in the ninth.

Bard gave up three hits through six innings and set down the
first two batters in the seventh. Then he lost his control.

Sean Rodriguez walked, Desmond Jennings singled and Pena walked,
loading the bases. Pitching coach Bob McClure visited Bard and left
him in the game. The move backfired as Bard walked Longoria with
his 111th pitch. That's when Valentine went to the mound to lift
Bard and was booed on the walk back.

"Mac came out and said, 'Do you want this guy?' I wanted him,"
said Bard, a converted reliever making his second major-league
start. "In hindsight, probably I was tired."

Thomas ended the threat by retiring Luke Scott on a fly to
right.

Game notes

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney attended
the game. He chatted with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft
... Youkilis sat out the game with a minor groin injury. ... In
1968, the Red Sox began the tradition of playing a single game with
a morning start on Patriots' Day. The Rays are 3-0 in those games.
... Ryan Sweeney was 0 for 3 after hitting safely in the other
seven games he played for Boston.