Rays lament wasting Shields' start

Rays rue wasting Shields' start

ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields' quality start taunted the Rays on Friday night as a wasted opportunity after their Game 1 loss to the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

Shields allowed two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out six in a 7 1/3-inning performance that went for naught because Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka shut down the Rays' offense with seven scoreless frames.

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Inside the Tampa Bay clubhouse, there was a feeling that one the Rays could have had had gotten away.

"It is a little bit frustrating," Evan Longoria said. "Shields always gives us a good effort. But pitching always beats hitting, and Dice-K battled him the whole game pitch-for-pitch. [Shields] did a good job, and we were unable to produce offensively. So I guess it is a little frustrating to see James go down that way. But we'll come back tomorrow."

Rays manager Joe Maddon went further by noting, "It's a mortal sin to waste good pitching."

Shields "pitched really well," Maddon said. "Listen, he does that often. That's typical Shieldsy right here. He gave us every chance to win that game tonight, but their guy was a little better."

How good was Shields? As good as ever, showing the bulldog character that has typified his performances since arriving to the Rays in 2006 and that have earned him the nickname "Big Game James."

In the first inning, Shields walked a batter and allowed a ground-rule double to Kevin Youkilis with two outs. But he didn't panic, regrouping to strike out J.D. Drew and end the threat.

The Red Sox scored their first run off Shields in the fifth after Jason Bay walked to lead off and Mark Kotsay followed with a check-swing double to left that put runners at second and third. Again, Shields stayed calm and managed to limit the damage to just one run.

The other run charged to the Shields came in the eighth, when surrendered a single to Dustin Pedroia on his 100th pitch of the game. Maddon decided to bring in J.P. Howell, and Pedroia proceeded to steal second before Howell walked David Ortiz. Kevin Youkilis then hit a line drive to left that glanced off the glove of a diving Carl Crawford for an RBI double and a 2-0 Boston lead.

Shields held his head high after the game despite taking the tough loss.

"We're going try and take our same approach and win tomorrow," Shields said. "I have faith in the entire team. [Rebounding from tough losses] is what we've done all season. They played a [great] ballgame tonight. You just have to tip your cap to Dice-K the way he pitched tonight, and tonight he was a better man."

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