Shields stops 10-game home winless streak

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—James Shields(notes) 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(notes) had an RBI triple and Gregg Zaun(notes) hit a run-scoring double in the third to help the Rays take a 6-2 lead.

Evan Longoria(notes) 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(notes) (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(notes) hit an RBI single in the first and Vernon Wells(notes) 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(notes) and Gabe Gross(notes) each had an RBI single in the third. The Rays’ sixth run of the inning scored when B.J. Upton(notes) hit into a double play.

The Rays went up 8-2 in the fourth when Ben Zobrist(notes) 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(notes) and pinch hitter Kyle Phillips(notes) had RBI doubles during the sixth for the Blue Jays.

NOTES: 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(notes) (bruised right foot) might miss his next start Tuesday. … Toronto reliever Scott Downs(notes) has a hamstring injury and is day to day.

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