Devil Rays 5, Tigers 3

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—James Shields looked and felt fresh, so there was no doubt in manager Joe Maddon’s mind that the young Tampa Bay right-hander had enough to finish off the Detroit Tigers.

“He was getting outs rather quickly,” Maddon said of Shields, who settled after a shaky first inning to throw the second complete game of his career and beat the defending American League champions 5-3 on Wednesday night.

“He wasn’t laboring at all. And I also always had this personal theory that complete games can elevate a young pitcher.”

Elijah Dukes and Brendan Harris hit solo homers to back Shields (4-0), who yielded three runs and five hits in the opening inning, then allowed just three runners to reach base the rest of the way.

“When you give up three runs in the first inning it’s tough to comeback. I never would have thought I would have thrown a complete game,” said Shields, who won for the first time in nearly four weeks.

“It’s another milestone early in my career. I didn’t really think about it until I went out there in the ninth. They came up to me and said, `Do you want it?’ And I said, `Yeah.”’

Dukes hit his 10th homer of the season in the fifth and Harris snapped a 3-3 tie against left-hander Nate Robertson (4-5) in the sixth. Jorge Cantu, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton also drove in runs for the Devil Rays, who have come from behind in 19 of their 22 victories.

Shields retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced, including 13 straight before Gary Sheffield reached on an infield single with two outs in the eighth. He allowed seven hits—two after the first inning, walked one and struck out five.

“That’s what he’s been working on since he’s been here—his ability to not let something that happened badly affect him over the course the entire game,” Maddon said. “That’s a classic example of being able to regroup and have confidence in yourself.”

The Tigers had a season-high 22 hits in a 14-2 victory Tuesday night and didn’t waste time jumping on Shields, who has been Tampa Bay’s most consistent pitcher even though he hadn’t won since May 3.

The 25-year-old right-hander worked at least seven innings in the four starts he made between victories, and had departed each of his first 10 outings this season with a lead or the score tied.

“I’m very impressed with him. He’s aggressive. He’s got a great changeup. Works both sides of the plate,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

“He could have caved in that first inning, but he didn’t cave in at all. He got tougher as the game went on. … He didn’t panic. He pitched his game.”

Curtis Granderson tripled off the top of the center field wall on the first pitch of the game and Placido Polanco singled up the middle on the second pitch to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames also had RBI singles in the first, but the Tigers wouldn’t come close to scoring again.

Magglio Ordonez, who went 0-for-3 to end a 12-game hitting streak, drew a two-out walk in the third and Thames led off the fourth with a single, but neither runner advanced into scoring position.

Robertson, who has lost four of his past five decisions, allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. In addition to the home runs to Dukes and Harris, the left-hander helped the Devil Rays with a wild pitch that led to one run and a two-base throwing error that led to the run that tied it 3-3.

“I hurt myself, throwing the ball away, obviously,” Robertson said. “It’s disappointing.”

Notes

Shields’ other complete game was a 2-0 loss at Seattle on Aug. 9, 2006. … Tigers 3B Brandon Inge sat out with a small chip fracture in his left big toe. He likely won’t play Thursday night at Cleveland, but hopes to return to the lineup in a few days. … Detroit SS Carlos Guillen left in the seventh inning with a mild left grin strain. Leyland said he won’t play Thursday, either. … The Devil Rays are 12-8 against the four AL clubs that made the playoffs last season and 10-21 against everyone else.

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