Home runs continue haunting veteran Shields

White Sox right-hander has allowed 22 dingers in 75 2/3 innings since trade

Home runs continue haunting veteran Shields

CHICAGO -- James Shields produced his best start of August during the Phillies' 5-3 victory over the White Sox Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

The veteran right-hander allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings in the Interleague contest, having allowed 27 earned runs in 14 innings during four previous trips to the mound this month. But once again, the home run ball came back to hurt him.

Cesar Hernandez went deep leading off the third and Tommy Joseph connected with two outs in the sixth, meaning Shields has yielded 22 home runs during the 75 2/3 innings thrown since being acquired by the White Sox. Since the start of 2015, opponents have gone deep a Major League-high 64 times against Shields.

That number becomes an even bigger problem with potentially two years remaining on his contract pitching at a hitter-friendly home ballpark on the south side of Chicago.

"It's always going to be an issue in this ballpark, especially when it's warmer," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You're going to get balls that carry and different wind patterns.

"You want to get it out of the air. And I think for him he's going to have to be working down. There's ways I think he'll be able to do that and get the ball out of the air, especially here."

Hernandez hit a classic U.S. Cellular home run, lofting a 3-1, 91 mph fastball down the left-field line that somehow carried over the fence. Joseph's homer came off a mistake pitch by Shields, with the right-hander hanging a 0-2 off-speed pitch to the first baseman.

"Honestly I think the only pitch I made a mistake on was that last one, the home run in the sixth inning there," Shields said. "The ball kind of slipped out of my hand a little bit and kind of left it over the plate.

"Other than that, I felt good with my location tonight. I was hitting my spots consistently. They were getting hits here and there. That's part of it. One of the positives things: I didn't walk anyone, and I was getting some swings and misses. But we have to move on and move forward and build off that."

Home runs were present for Shields, even in his more successful years on the mound. It doesn't make it any easier for Shields to accept.

"I don't like giving up home runs, that's for sure. But those things happen," Shields said. "But the first home run tonight, any other day it's not going to go out. That's just part of the game."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.