Shields tosses six solid innings in loss

Padres starter gives up three runs in loss to Pirates

Shields tosses six solid innings in loss

SAN DIEGO -- Padres starter James Shields was done in by three pitches Thursday night -- none of which even crossed the plate above the ankles of the opposing hitter.

Before the Padres' bullpen let Thursday's series finale slip away, Shields tossed six quality innings in an 11-1 loss to the Pirates at Petco Park. He allowed three runs -- one on a wild pitch and two on singles by Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison, who somehow managed to make solid contact on a pair of offspeed pitches only a few inches off the ground.

"The first one might have hit the dirt, and he was kind of able to throw his bat out there and get a hit," Shields said. "The second one, that was exactly where I wanted to throw it. And he flipped it out to right. There's nothing you can really do about that."

Said Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt: "He was out front twice. There's not much we can do about it. [Shields] executed the pitch, and [Harrison] threw the bat at it and got a hit twice."

All three of the Pirates' runs against Shields came with two outs, and the third proved most frustrating for the Padres battery. After Harrison's second RBI single, he swiped second and came around to score on a pair of wild pitches -- the latter of which bounced only a few feet from Bethancourt, but Harrison won the foot race to home plate.

Bethancourt, who came to the Padres during the offseason in a trade with Atlanta, is still learning Shields' arsenal and plan of attack -- no small feat, given Shields' vast repertoire.

"James is as difficult as anybody in the game to call a game for," said Padres manager Andy Green. "He's just got so many different weapons and is so cerebral and has so many different ways that he can go about attacking hitters, that he's not necessarily the easiest guy to follow his gameplan."

Shields echoed that sentiment, saying, "I'm a tough pitcher to call games and catch. I throw every one of my pitches to both sides of the plate, so it's tough. But he did a great job."

It's only the second time Shields and Bethancourt have worked together, and that led to a few challenges early Wednesday night. But ultimately Shields settled into a bit of a groove, retiring the last seven hitters he faced.

"I'm trying to connect with him, he's trying to connect with me," Bethancourt said. "Things are not always going to be on the same page. We got lost for a little bit, but we were trying to get back on track and trying to be on the same page, and after a couple innings, I think we did a pretty good job."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.