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James Shields throws majors-leading 10th complete game as Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto Blue Jays 6-1

TORONTO — The Rays blasted four homers, including a pair by power-tripping third baseman Evan Longoria, in a 6-1 win over the Blue Jays on Friday.

But Rays starter James Shields was responsible for the biggest news — his 10th complete game of the season — and, at least indirectly, the biggest noise.

His third strikeout of Jose Bautista led the Jays slugger to take a full swing at the dugout wall at the start of a tirade that resulted in his ejection. "Thunder," was how Rays manager Joe Maddon described the sound.

"It was pretty loud," Shields said. "Just a frustrating day for him, I guess."

After the frustration of losing three of four to the Tigers this week and seeing their postseason hopes fade, the Rays were refreshed with the crisp win. They improved to 71-59 and moved within 7½ games of the AL wild-card-leading Yankees.

Shields seemed in command from the start, striking out 12, scattering seven hits, walking just one and working out of his only slight jam, in the third.

"It seems like that every time he goes out," Longoria said, "you just get a good feeling."

The only real issue was whether Shields would finish the job as he began the ninth with 106 pitches and gave up a leadoff single to Adam Lind.

With the bullpen in motion, Shields struck out Edwin Encarnacion. Maddon, thinking back to a spring promise to allow Shields the chance to finish more games, gave him another batter.

And when Shields got Brett Lawrie to ground into a fielder's choice, he earned another batter. He got Kelly Johnson to fly out, finishing with 125 pitches, one shy of his career high.

"It's been a phenomenal year so far, 10 CGs," Shields said. "I never thought I'd be doing (that many complete games). It's a lot of hard work. It's very gratifying, but I'm definitely trying to get some more. … It's pretty special."

It's the most in the American League since 1998, when Scott Erickson had 11 for Baltimore. CC Sabathia had 10 in 2008 between Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Shields, whose 12-10 record is as much a product of the lack of run support as anything (evidenced by his 2.96 ERA), also surpassed 200 innings for the fifth straight season: "I'm really, really proud of that."

He extended the streak of Rays starters working at least seven innings to 11 games, most in the majors in nine years, last done by the Mariners from June 11-23, 2003. If Jeff Niemann goes seven innings today, the Rays will have the longest streak since the 1994 Dodgers went 16 games.

Shields was the first pitcher to strike out Bautista three times in a game since Seattle's Felix Hernandez in September 2009. That led Bautista to bash the dugout wall then scream choice words at home-plate umpire Bill Welke. After he was ejected, Bautista flung his bat, batting helmet, wrist guard and a water bottle on the field.

"I was kind of surprised at him,'' Longoria said. "It was loud."

Longoria had his second two-homer game of the season. He has 10 homers in August, 13 since the All-Star break (when he started feeling healthier) and 24 for the season. Desmond Jennings and John Jaso also went deep.

"It's sad it's taken me this long to get back to feeling normal, but better late than never," Longoria said. "This is kind of the right time where all of us would like to hit a stride, being within striking distance.''

"This is what we think he can look like all the time,'' Maddon said. "There's still a lot of time for him to make some real noise."

Rays 6

Blue Jays 1

James Shields throws majors-leading 10th complete game as Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto Blue Jays 6-1 08/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 27, 2011 1:07am]
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