Rays 2, Blue Jays 0

Ricky Romero was good. James Shields was even better.

Shields (2-1) pitched a four-hitter for his second consecutive
complete game, Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer and the Tampa Bay
Rays spoiled a strong outing by Romero, beating the Toronto Blue
Jays 2-0 on Sunday.

Romero (1-3) got his third straight loss despite allowing just
two runs and five hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA to
3.00.

”It’s frustrating losing ball games that we’re in,” Romero
said. ”I did everything possible to keep us in the game.”

The Blue Jays were blanked for the first time this season and
have lost 10 of 14 following a 5-2 start.

”Right now we’ve got a few guys who are trying to do too
much,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. ”They’re not trusting
their abilities and letting the game come to them, particularly at
the plate.”

Romero allowed Zobrist’s homer in the first. The Blue Jays have
scored just three total runs in his past three starts.

”We’re in a little bit of a funk but I can’t control what they
do as hitters,” Romero said.

Romero struck out a season-high 10 and walked just one, retiring
14 of his final 15 batters.

”Classic example of having to get a good pitcher early,” Rays
manager Joe Maddon said. ”Once he found himself and he settled in,
he started making much better pitches with everything.”

Shields threw just 95 pitches, wrapping up his seventh-career
complete game in a brisk 2 hours, 5 minutes. The right-hander also
threw a four-hitter against the Chicago White Sox last Tuesday.

”It felt really good,” Shields said. ”Obviously, being able
to throw back-to-back complete games is something special.”

Over the winter and during spring training, Shields worked with
pitching coach Jim Hickey to tweak his delivery, changing the way
he steps back when working from the windup and twisting his upper
body less when he throws.

”I just simplified things,” Shields said. ”I’m a lot quieter
in my delivery, I’m not so violent. I think I’m more under control
and I think that’s why I’m throwing my offspeed pitches for strikes
consistently.”

The Blue Jays were the latest team left baffled by the new-look
Shields, who earned his first shutout since May 9, 2008, against
the Los Angeles Angels.

”He was throwing strike one and from there he went to a lot of
his offspeed,” Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia said. ”His changeup
was real good today, he kind of kept everybody off his fastball. He
threw his changeup anytime and his curveball anytime, so it was
tough.”

It’s the third time in Rays history that a pitcher has won
back-to-back complete games. Rolando Arrojo did it in 1998 and
Albie Lopez did it in 2000. Tampa Bay starters have worked seven or
more innings in 11 of the past 12 games and posted a 2.46 ERA over
that span.

Shields struck out seven, walked two and lowered his ERA to
2.35. The Rays won for the 10th time in 14 games following a 1-8
start.

Toronto’s Jose Bautista walked in the first, the 11th straight
plate appearance he’d reached safely. Needing one more to tie Lyle
Overbay’s team record, Bautista lined out sharply to third in the
fourth.

”I finally stopped him, man,” Shields said. ”He’s locked in
right now and he was all series. Even the line drive to third base
that Lopez caught was scorched.”

Zobrist hit his fifth homer of the season and second in as many
days. He lined an 0-2 pitch over the left-field wall.

”Other than one pitch, (Romero) was lights out,” Arencibia
said. ”One pitch just stayed over the plate a little bit. We were
trying to go up and in and it just stayed over the plate and
(Zobrist) hit it out.”

A switch-hitter, Zobrist hit a three-run shot from the left side
of the plate in Saturday’s 6-4 victory.

Shields didn’t allow a hit until Juan Rivera’s groundball single
to begin the fifth. Arencibia and Travis Snider struck out before
John McDonald lined a single to center, but Shields fanned Mike
McCoy to end the inning.

Corey Patterson led off the Toronto sixth with a double down the
right-field line, but Shields got the next three batters in
order.

NOTES: The Blue Jays placed 2B Aaron Hill (strained right
hamstring) on the 15-day DL, retroactive to April 20, and will
recall RHP Jesse Litsch from Triple-A Las Vegas to start Tuesday’s
game at Texas. … Rays 3B Evan Longoria (strained left oblique)
faced live pitching in the batting cages before the game and could
take regular BP during this week’s series in Minnesota. Longoria
hopes to return during Tampa Bay’s next homestand. … Rays LHP
J.P. Howell (shoulder) will make his second rehab appearance Monday
at extended spring training.