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Shields beats his former mates

The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon had seen similar performances many times, but now he was on the receiving end.

James Shields beat his former team after a shaky start, and Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer as the Kansas City Royals rallied for an 8-2 victory over the Rays on Tuesday night.

Shields, who compiled an 85-73 record in seven seasons with the Rays before being traded to the Royals in December in a seven-player blockbuster, gave up two runs before retiring a batter but nothing after that.

"It was pretty obvious the emotion was really, really high," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "James has really bonded with his teammates, and I think his teammates knew how big of a game it was for him."

After allowing two runs on three hits and a walk in the first, Shields (2-2) yielded just two singles and walked none during the rest of his seven-inning outing.

"I've seen it so many times where he'd give up two in the first or second inning and that's all the other team gets," Maddon said. "I was concerned at that point. We came out swinging the bats well. I was hoping to get another point there. It didn't surprise me. You knew he was going to settle down."

Shields retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced, including the last 13.

Rays right-hander Alex Cobb (3-2) allowed four singles while pitching shutout ball through the first five innings, and he retired the first two batters in the sixth.

The Royals, however, erupted for six consecutive hits and scored four runs to chase Cobb before the sixth ended.

Eric Hosmer started it with a double off the left field wall, and he scored on Lorenzo Cain's single to left. Moustakas homered into the Rays' right field bullpen to put the Royals up 3-2. It was Moustakas' first homer since Sept. 14, a span of 129 at-bats without going deep.

Jeff Francoeur then doubled and scored on Salvador Perez's single. Elliot Johnson's single finished Cobb's night. Cobb gave up four runs and 10 hits while striking out five and walking none.

"When I walked off the mound, I think that was the most angry I've ever been after a game," Cobb said. "I felt like from pitch number one I was going to have a smooth, easy-sailing game and go as deep as I could.

"Out of nowhere that happens. Everything was coming kind of easy, and then coming to a screeching halt was probably the most difficult thing to deal with. That game was so competitive for half the game, and just like that, it's a blowout. It's tough to watch, tough to be a part of."

He knew there was a thin margin with Shields opposing him.

"That's typical Shields right there," Cobb said. "I think those two runs in the first might have hurt us a little bit because it just got him more angry."

The Royals tacked on three runs in the seventh off Brandon Gomes. Moustakas contributed a sacrifice fly, and Francoeur drove in a run with a triple. A Jose Molina throwing error allowed Hosmer to score the other run.

Butler's sacrifice fly in the eighth scored Johnson with the final run.

"The guys had my back -- they always do -- and that's what this team is all about," Shields said. "We're real resilient. We had a couple of tough losses, but we fought back hard tonight."

While every Royal had a hit, the bottom five in the batting order -- Cain, Moustakas, Francoeur, Perez and Johnson -- went a combined 10-for-18 with five runs and six RBIs.

Desmond Jennings led off the game with a first-pitch single, a ground ball just beyond the reach of shortstop Alcides Escobar. Matt Joyce, the next batter, hit a 3-1 pitch over the right-center fence for his fifth home run. The Rays have homered in 15 consecutive games, which ties the club record and is the longest streak in the majors this season. The Rays also homered in 15 straight games in 2009.

"That's a team over there that knows me real well," Shields said. "The first hit of the game, a little check-swing by Des, and I fell behind the count against Joyce, and you can't do that. I knew I had to grind it out."

After one out, Shields ran into more difficulty, walking Evan Longoria and giving up a double to James Loney. Shields prevented additional damage by striking out Yunel Escobar and Luke Scott, stranding the runners.

NOTES: Rays left-hander David Price said Tuesday that he has not heard from Major League Baseball officials concerning the incident with plate umpire Tom Hallion on Sunday. Price accused Hallion of screaming at him "to throw the ball over the (bleeping) plate" as he walked off the field in the seventh inning. "You can't talk to people that way, period," Price said. "That was my whole thing. It had nothing to do with the calls that he made. Whether they discipline him or not, that's just not the way to talk to people. It's not." Hallion responded by calling Price a "liar." ... Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the Price-Hallion affair: "I take a lot of responsibility in that moment by not being more proactive and getting out there sooner. I didn't read it right, and I should have read it better. I really believe that, and I was upset with myself." ... Former Ray Johnson made his fifth start at second base for the Royals.
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