Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon could sense early on that James Shields was heading for a big game.
Shields struck out nine in a four-hitter and the surging Rays beat the Chicago White Sox 2-1 on Tuesday night for their seventh win in eight games.
”It was really fun to watch,” Maddon said. ”He kept his tempo. He kept his pace. The quality of the locations was severe. On the money all night long. I could tell he was on right from jump street.”
Shields (1-1) outpitched John Danks and walked one in his sixth career complete game, and first since June 10, 2008, against the Los Angeles Angels.
”I wanted it, that’s for sure,” Shields said. ”Joe had some faith in me. I was cruising through the game. It’s exciting. I got the CG. It’s been a long time.”
It was the second straight outstanding pitching performance for Tampa Bay. David Price and Joel Peralta combined on a four-hitter in a 5-0 win over the White Sox on Monday night.
Danks (0-2) gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings for the White Sox, who have lost six in a row. The left-hander struck out five and hit two batters.
”It’s a shame when you’re wasting good pitching,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Danks held the Rays without a hit in six at-bats – including a pair of strikeouts by B.J. Upton – with runners in scoring position through three innings, and 0 for 8 overall.
The White Sox, who have scored just 29 runs over the last 10 games, tied it at 1 in the fifth. Carlos Quentin hit a leadoff double and scored on A.J. Pierzynski’s one-out single to center.
”It’s a combination of both,” Guillen said. ”Shields pitched very well and we’re not swinging the bat well. We’re struggling right now at the plate, big time.”
The Rays went back in front in the bottom half of the fifth on Sean Rodriguez’s run-scoring triple.
Shields got some defensive help in the seventh from catcher Kelly Shoppach, who picked Paul Konerko off at first after Quentin struck out.
Chicago designated hitter Adam Dunn went 0 for 4, including three strikeouts. He has two hits in his last 27 at-bats.
Guillen said he might drop Dunn, who missed six games after having an emergency appendectomy on April 6, down in the lineup from his current third spot.
”Just so he can relax,” Guillen said. ”When you’re out for a few days, it takes you a little while to come back and regroup.”
Shields ended the game by striking out Dunn and Konerko with Juan Pierre on second.
”It’s awesome,” Maddon said. ”He was very confident the last three innings.”
Tampa Bay grabbed the lead in the first when Ben Zobrist tripled and scored on a grounder by Felipe Lopez, who had three RBIs in Monday’s game. Zobrist entered hitless in 10 at-bats against Danks.
Designated hitter Johnny Damon (bruised left ring finger tip) and first baseman Dan Johnson (sore left forearm-wrist) were out of the Rays’ lineup. Both could start again in the next couple days.
NOTES: Tampa Bay LF Sam Fuld, the replacement for All-Star Carl Crawford, received high praise from Maddon. ”There’s no drop off,” Maddon said. ”Sam’s playing that level of defense right now. All the different things he’s doing defensively, I can’t say that Carl’s better.” Crawford signed with Boston during the offseason. … Danks didn’t allow a run in the first three innings of his other three starts this season. … Tampa Bay LHP J.P. Howell, coming back from left shoulder surgery, is set to pitch in extended spring training after throwing a 35-pitch batting practice session. The reliever is not expected to rejoin the team until mid-May.