ST. PETERSBURG — RHP James Shields had a tough start to his night Tuesday, allowing two first-inning runs and 10 hits overall to the Yankees.
But Shields settled in to get his first victory in four starts, going seven innings in a 7-4 win over the Yankees. After the Rays gave him the lead back in the fourth, Shields held it, taking 32 pitches to get through innings 5-7.
"I tried to keep us in the game as long as I could throughout the game to give us a chance to score," Shields said.
Despite allowing double-digit hits for the second straight outing, Shields didn't walk anybody and stranded a runner on third in the fifth and sixth, when 2B Robinson Cano got thrown out at the plate.
"He had really good stuff," manager Joe Maddon said. "They got their 10 hits … but overall I thought he threw the ball well."
GETTING CLOSE: OF Matt Joyce (left external oblique strain) is certain he'll rejoin the Rays during the weekend series in Cleveland after a two-game rehab assignment in Triple-A Durham that starts tonight.
"Absolutely," Joyce said.
Joyce said he'll play nine innings in the outfield tonight and likely play for the Bulls Thursday, when he's eligible to come off the disabled list.
"I feel great," he said. "I'm ready to go."
Joyce said head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield's initial plan was for him to use the All-Star break to rest and then return. But Joyce felt significant improvement three days ago, and when he had no problems swinging, he said he wanted to get back as soon as possible. "If there's no issues," he said, "there's no point in waiting. I want to get back to help our team win."
MATSUI MATTERS: DH/OF Hideki Matsui, pulled from Monday's game with left hamstring tightness, was encouraged by how he felt Tuesday, saying he took some swings in the cage and was available to pinch-hit. Maddon said Matsui felt better than he and the Rays anticipated, and he should avoid the disabled list. Matsui said the next test is running, which could happen today, and he hopes to be able to play the field in a day or two.
ON MEND: Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria (partially torn left hamstring) will stay in St. Petersburg to rehab when the team travels to Cleveland. Porterfield will also stay back to prepare him for another minor-league rehab stint, which Maddon said could happen after the All-Star break.
FULD UPDATE: OF Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery) starts his rehab assignment Saturday for Class A Charlotte. Maddon has said Fuld would likely need the maximum 20-day stint.
"I'm like champing at the bit," Fuld said. "It's been a long three months, for sure. I'm pumped. I'm going to be like the hardest playing rehabber ever."
STEALING HOME: LF Desmond Jennings was credited with a steal of home in the seventh inning on a double-steal with CF B.J. Upton. It was the ninth steal of home in Rays history, and first on a double-steal since Upton did it April 8, 2008, against Seattle.
TRADE WINDS: Maddon said he doesn't anticipate the Rays making any moves before the trade deadline, rather "our bigger anticipation is getting people (healthy)."
MISCELLANY: The Rays have won nine straight home games against the Yankees since July 21, 2011, tying their longest home winning streak vs. any opponent (Twins, Aug. 8, 2000-April 24, 2002). … The Rays signed Arizona OF Joey Rickard, their ninth-round pick. … Durham 1B Leslie Anderson was added to the International League All-Star team as an injury replacement, joining Bulls RHP Dane De La Rosa.
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.