The Grand Slam: James Shields, Adam Wainwright turn in dominating performances

JAMES SHIELDS STRIKES OUT 12 IN ROYALS WIN: Well, hello there, James Shields. The Kansas City Royals ace had been a bit of a tough-luck loser in 2014, carrying a 0-2 record into Thursday's game despite a 2.37 ERA.

It all came together against the Houston Astros, though. The Royals gave Shields five runs by the fifth and he dominated the Houston lineup, striking out 12 batters while giving up only four hits and one run. At one point, Shields struck out seven consecutive batters.

''We were pounding the strike zone and getting strike one and getting ahead of the hitters and that's an aggressive team over there and when you get ahead in the count and make your pitches you're successful,'' he said after the game.

The Royals won 5-1, as Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar all drove in runs.

ADAM WAINWRIGHT SHUTS OUT THE NATS: When Adam Wainwright pitches, this kind of game isn't all that surprising anymore. The St. Louis Cardinals ace shut down the Washington Nationals convincingly, pitching a two-hit shutout with eight strikeouts as the Cards won 8-0. It was a good day for pitchers Thursday, and Wainwright led the pack.

''I had pretty much everything working. My sinker was sinking, my four-seamer was four-seaming, my curveball was curving,'' Wainwright said. ''My cutter was back. That was a big pitch for me tonight, something that when I'm throwing that quality, good, hard cutter (and) not a sloppy slurvy slider thing, it keeps those lefties honest.''

He was aided by plenty of runs, four errors by the Nats and, heck, Wainwright even got two hits himself.

LESTER'S RED SOX GET THE BEST OF SALE'S WHITE SOX: Chris Sale had the better pitching line, but Jon Lester's team got the win. That was the result of Thursday's Boston Red Sox-Chicago White Sox game, which featured both starters taking no-hitters into the sixth inning. 

The Red Sox got on the board first, when Xander Bogaerts hit a solo homer off Sale, setting up Boston for a 3-1 win. That was the only hit Sale would give up, though, striking out 10 through seven innings. The White Sox bullpen gave up two runs in the ninth, fueled by a David Ross go-ahead double.

Lester improved to 2-2 on the season, striking out nine, giving up seven hits through eight innings and the one run.

CANO, CHOO AND CUTCH HIT THEIR FIRST HOMERS OF THE YEAR: Two of the winter's biggest free agents and the reigning NL MVP entered Thursday's action without a home run on their stat sheets. All three remedied that.

Robinson Cano and Shin-Soo Choo, who signed contracts worth $370 million between the two of them, each got their first home runs of the season — against each other. The Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 8-6, despite Cano's three-run homer, which was part of a six-run third inning for the M's. Choo, meanwhile, hit a solo jack in the second inning.

Over in the NL, Andrew McCutchen gave the Pittsburgh Pirates the first of four homers they would use to pummel the Milwaukee Brewers. Pittsburgh won the game 11-2, handing Milwaukee its first road loss of the season. 

For the rest of Thursday's MLB scores, check out our scoreboard.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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