Once again the offense never got on track, resulting in a 1-0 loss on Tuesday night -- the Rays' fourth 1-0 loss of August. Not since July 1955, when the White Sox took four 1-0 losses in a month, has an American League team endured that experience.
"Unless you're the '62 Dodgers, I think it's kind of difficult [to lose four 1-0 games in a month]," manager Joe Maddon said. "Probably wouldn't have seen this several years ago based on certain circumstances, but the game is coming back. And there's a lot of good pitchers out there, a lot of good bullpens. ... Again, it's hard to believe we've lost four of them -- especially in this ballpark. When you're playing in Texas, you normally hit."
By losing their fourth consecutive game, the Rays dropped to 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles and Athletics in the AL Wild Card race. In addition, they fell to five games behind the AL East-leading Yankees.
The Rays have now lost 10 of their last 11 one-run games, and they are 6-19 in such games since May 28.
Shields, hunting for his fifth consecutive win, faced the minimum through three innings. Ian Kinsler then homered 362 feet to left on a 3-2 pitch to put the Rangers up, 1-0.
"Just a fastball, 3-2 count, behind in the count," Shields said. "Didn't really want to walk [the] leadoff hitter of the inning -- just a fastball down the middle."
Kinsler's blast was all the Rangers got against Shields, who allowed one run on three hits while striking out eight en route to his eighth loss of the season.
"I'm happy with the way I pitched tonight," he said. "Obviously, there's not a lot of times where you pitch and give up a solo home run and that wins the ballgame. I wish it could have been different."
Yu Darvish was on the hill for the Rangers after missing a start due to a tight right quadriceps. Prior to that he had allowed 36 runs in his previous 52 innings.
Despite that lack of recent success, the Rays could not get to Darvish, who walked a tightrope for most of his seven innings.
The Rays' offense appeared to be on the brink of a big inning a few times during the first five innings when they got runners onboard, but each time they came away with nothing.
None of the missed opportunities was more frustrating than the one in the second inning.
Ben Zobrist walked to start the inning, and Luke Scott followed by ripping a double to right field. Unfortunately for Zobrist and the Rays, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus faked Zobrist enough to make him slow down. Otherwise Zobrist likely would have scored.
Instead the Rays were left with runners at second and third with no outs. Darvish then struck out Carlos Pena, Ryan Roberts flied out to center field and Jose Lobaton grounded out to end the threat.
"We had [Darvish] on the ropes pretty well early in the game," Maddon said. "And ... Carlos, Ryan and Lo [had] a chance to do something there, and it didn't want to happen."
Darvish escaped and, finally, flourished.
"I thought Darvish got better [as the game progressed]," Maddon said. "Early on he didn't want to throw his fastball. He threw a little more with [the] game in progress. But then his breaking ball got sharper. We chased a lot of pitches. That was a hard thing to determine.
"For me, a lot of those pitches were balls out of his hand, but we were chasing the balls down, so he might have had some great action on it."
Darvish allowed no runs on six hits while striking out 10 en route to his 13th win of the season.
"It was a great pitchers' duel," Rangers right fielder David Murphy said. "Fortunately, Kinsler picked the right time to hit a home run. Neither team could get much going, and neither team could manufacture runs. Fortunately, we got the long ball."
Maddon smiled when asked to gauge the pain factor in losing a 1-0 game.
"You know, the pain factor is closer to a 10 when you get shut out, 1-0 -- and we've had the displeasure of experiencing that often in the recent past," he said. "I know one thing about our guys. We'll show up tomorrow.
"There's no letting up. Our goal is to win the American League East. A couple of days ago, it was more believable for some people. But for us, that's why you play every day."