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Shields looks to sustain home success

Shields looks to sustain home success

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ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields has been money in the bank for the Rays at home this season, where he is 7-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 12 starts.

Shields won't deny that he feels comfortable pitching at Tropicana Field. Particularly noteworthy are his two complete games -- a two-hitter against the Red Sox and a one-hitter against the Angels.

But lately, the 26-year-old right-hander has been a model of consistency -- home and away. Shields is 5-2 in his last eight starts since serving a six-game suspension after the June 5 incident in Boston.

Shields' last outing in Toronto on Monday night was typical of the blue-collar starter, when he gave the Rays yet another quality start, his 15th of the season in 22 starts.

Shields will be matched against Armando Galarraga, who is particularly tough against right-handers, who are hitting just .144 against him.

Looking ahead toward Sunday's game, Rays manager Joe Maddon did not start switch-hitting catcher Dioner Navarro on Saturday night in favor of right-handed-hitting backup Shawn Riggans. Normally Riggans would be the Sunday catcher, but Maddon intends to have seven left-handed bats in Sunday's lineup.

"Righties don't make a lot of contact [against Galarraga], whereas the lefties do," Maddon said. "I was going to give [Navarro] a day off, one day or the other. So I'd rather it be tomorrow than [Saturday]. ... [Galarraga] beats up righties, I know that."

The Rays are 6-3 in Sunday home games this season and will go for the sweep against the Tigers.

Pitching matchup
TB: RHP James Shields (9-7, 3.66 ERA)
Shields took his seventh loss of the season on Monday night against Toronto despite the fact he made his 15th quality start of the season by allowing three earned runs in 7 1/3 innings while walking none. The 26-year-old right-hander's best pitch has always been his changeup, but he also has a plus-fastball and curve, and he's added a cutter that has helped him throw inside to left-handers. He is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Tigers.

DET: RHP Armando Galarraga (9-4, 3.36 ERA)
Just when you think the American League has finally figured out Detroit's rotation savior, the rookie right-hander shows he can win without his best stuff. He allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday in Cleveland, but limited the damage enough to avoid cleanup work for the bullpen and take advantage of a Detroit offensive onslaught for a victory. He has won his past two starts to take the lead in wins among Tigers pitchers, and he'll try to get into double digits against a Rays team that has never seen him.

Tidbits
Troy Percival got his 24th save on Friday night, which moved him past Randy Myers to take over eighth place on the all-time saves list. Jeff Reardon is next with 367 saves. Percival already has passed former Ray Roberto Hernandez, John Wetteland, and Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers so far in 2008. ... Carl Crawford stole his 24th base of the season on Friday night to end his 18-game stolen-base drought, the second-longest such streak of his career. ... Jason Hammel pitched two innings of scoreless relief on Saturday night, marking the right-hander's first appearance since July 27.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• ION-HD

On radio
• WHNZ 1250, WGES 680 (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Rays (Matt Garza, 9-6, 3.56) vs. Indians (Cliff Lee, 14-2, 2.58), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Rays (Edwin Jackson, 7-7, 4.20) vs. Indians (Fausto Carmona, 5-3, 4.19), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Rays (Scott Kazmir, 8-5, 2.89) vs. Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 1-6, 5.82), 12:40 p.m. ET

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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