TORONTO — White Sox right-hander James Shields turned and watched, hunched over his knees, as Russell Martin's shot bounced on top of the centerfield wall Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre.
Shields' first start since April 16 had been going well until that tying two-run homer in the sixth, but the sudden twist sent the former Ray to the dugout, where he sat shaking his head as the Sox fell behind in a 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
In his return from a right lat strain, Shields gave up three earned runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 52/3 innings.
The Blue Jays jumped on the Sox bullpen after that, scoring the go-ahead run on Ryan Goins' triple off Anthony Swarzak in the sixth. The Sox lost for the first time in seven games at the Rogers Centre, missing a shot at their second straight series sweep in Toronto.
"Obviously, a 3-1 ballgame, you've got to get that out," Shields said. "I got two outs quick in the sixth. I've got to bear down and get the out."
This was Shields' first trip to the disabled list in a 12-year career, and the 35-year-old said he felt "a little weird" to be back on the mound.
He had a 1.62 ERA and 16 strikeouts in three starts before he was injured, and he picked up where he left off, holding the Blue Jays scoreless through four innings. They broke through in the fifth on Kevin Pillar's single to left.
"In between innings, I was telling the umpire at second base, 'I need to slow myself down a little bit,' " Shields said. "Being in the league as long as I have, I still got excited. So I was trying to be real methodical with my rhythm. It felt good to be out there."
Shields recorded two outs in the sixth before Troy Tulowitzki singled on a ball that rolled up the line and hit third base, leaving Todd Frazier without a play. Martin's homer then went over jumping centerfielder Willy Garcia's outstretched glove.
"I left it up a little bit, but it was off the plate a little too," Shields said. "But he put a good swing on it, and unfortunately it hit the top of the wall. If Tulowitzki didn't hit that dribbler down the line, I think we'd have been out of that inning."
Inheriting a runner from Swarzak with one out in the seventh, left-hander Dan Jennings gave up a two-run homer to Kendrys Morales that traveled 460 feet and hit a leftfield scoreboard ribbon.
Former Ray Steve Pearce hit a ground rule RBI double off Michael Ynoa later in the inning for a 7-3 lead.
The Sox offense failed to score at least five runs for the first time in a week.
Nos. 7-9 hitters Garcia, Kevan Smith and Yolmer Sanchez hit three straight singles off left-hander J.A. Happ for the first run in the fifth. With two out, Jose Abreu worked the count full before hitting a two-run single to center for a 3-0 lead.
The Sox have a day off before continuing their trip with three games in Minnesota.
"We kept trying to grind," manager Rick Renteria said. "Shieldsy was containing them good up to the homer. We were battling when Swarzy came in, and we didn't get the result we wanted.
"I don't think you can put your head down. We won a series."