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.