BOSTON — For the first five innings Friday night, James Shields could have been pitching anywhere. He was in control and command, protecting the lead the Rays gave him, allowing only five hits and nary a run.
Then in the sixth inning he got a harsh reminder he was at Fenway Park and that what others consider America's Most Beloved Ballpark remains his most hated.
In the span of 21 pitches to five Red Sox hitters, he gave up five runs on two homers, and the Rays turned what started as an impressive bid for a fourth straight win into a 7-3 loss.
"I definitely put this one on me," Shields said. "I made a couple bad pitches and it cost us the game."
The Rays (14-17) led 3-0 after four innings, as Carl Crawford and Jason Bartlett continued to lead the way with three hits apiece. Crawford, who homered in his last at-bat Thursday, compiled an unofficial cycle, with a single, triple and double in his first three times up Friday, and stole his 21st straight base without being caught.
"It was just one of those nights where we were doing pretty well then all of a sudden it went away fast," manager Joe Maddon said. "But it happens; it happens in this ballpark."
A lot happens when Shields is on the mound. In five starts at Fenway, he is now 0-5 with a 9.00 ERA. In five home starts against them, he is 3-1, 3.32.
"I thought he was on top of his game. He looked really good. He looked sharp,'' Maddon said. "And they just snatched it, which they can do."
Jason Bay's three-run homer that tied the score, on an 0-and-2 fastball, was bad. And J.D. Drew's two-run homer that put the Sox ahead, on a hanging changeup five pitches later, was worse.
But Shields was more annoyed at what happened before Bay's at-bat. Dustin Pedroia led off with a sharp grounder that deflected off Shields' glove in a way that left second baseman Akinori Iwamura unable to make a play.
Then Shields got behind struggling DH David Ortiz, who came in hitting .229 and homerless for the season, and walked him.
"The big at-bat of the inning was Big Papi," Shields said. "That's a situation where we're up 3-0, and I've got to attack the zone, no matter what. He's not really hitting too well right now, and I've got to take advantage of it."
Shields credited Ortiz for "taking some good pitches," but "I've got to bear down right there and get that out."
Bay then homered for the fourth time in five games. Mike Lowell followed with a double off the leftfield wall, and Drew hit the next pitch out to right.
"The home runs don't really bother me as much as the walk," Shields said.
Relatively speaking, the Rays got off easy. In the sixth inning Thursday against Cleveland, the Red Sox scored 12 before making an out.
After scoring three in the first four innings Friday, the Rays were shut out the rest of the way by Brad Penney and Boston's dominating bullpen. "We didn't do a good job of holding the lead tonight,'' Crawford said.
Shields said the blame belonged on him. "There's been a couple games this season where I've cost the team the win," he said. "If I bear down in those situations, we've got that win no problem."