TORONTO — Right-hander James Shields has found himself on the wrong end of some hard luck this season.
The Rays ace leads the staff with 10 quality starts, but his offense hasn't always backed him up.
That was the case in Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays in front of a spirited Canada Day crowd of 30,533 at Rogers Centre, snapping the Rays' seven-game winning streak.
Shields gave up two earned runs through the first seven innings before getting tagged for two solo homers in the eighth. But that was more than enough for Jays rookie left-hander Ricky Romero, who has now pitched 20 consecutive scoreless innings, including shutting down the Phillies and Rays in back-to-back starts.
"We just got outpitched," manager Joe Maddon said. "Their guy was that good."
The Rays (44-36), who boast the majors' highest-scoring offense, have been shut out three times this season, twice with Shields on the mound. The Rays entered Wednesday's game having scored 3.99 runs per nine innings for Shields this season, fourth lowest in the AL.
"I thought James threw the hell out of the ball," said DH Pat Burrell, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. "You can't win if your team doesn't score. He definitely did his part. … I'll take that start every time out."
The Rays have been on the other end of these type of well-pitched games plenty this season, including the previous two nights. Their rotation and bullpen are big reasons they've been the hottest team in baseball and why they feel good heading into today's off day before starting a three-game series in Texas.
But they still lamented the chances that got away.
Ben Zobrist doubled with one out in the second but was stranded. And in the seventh, the Rays had their best opportunity, loading the bases with one out for Burrell, who hit into a double play.
"(Romero) made pitches when he had to," Burrell said. "We just weren't able to make the adjustment, it was that simple."
Maddon called Romero a "more physical version of Jamie Moyer, with plenty of fastball and a nice changeup. … He's going to be good for a long time, if he stays healthy."
In the eighth, the Rays nearly got to Romero again. They had runners on first and second with no outs. But pinch-hitter Willy Aybar lined into a double play.
B.J. Upton walked, bringing hot-hitting Carl Crawford up as the tying run. Crawford ripped the first pitch to the rightfield warning track, but Jose Bautista caught it for the final out.
"I thought Carl's ball was out," Maddon said. "I think all the Canadians stood up in rightfield and collectively pushed it back in, because it was leaving at the moment it was hit."
Maddon left Shields out for the eighth to face the heart of the order due to his previous success against Scott Rolen. But Adam Lind hit a home run, and Rolen — who was 1-for-12 against Shields — hit another solo shot. Shields, who had given up just 11 homers all season, allowed three Wednesday.
Shields said he felt great physically, battled and "kept us in the game." But it wasn't enough.
"He's such a great pitcher, I feel terrible," Zobrist said. "When he's out there, just battling his butt off and we can't get him enough runs to win. He's just had kind of hard luck this year with the runs scored with him on the mound. We definitely want to come through for him."
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.