Two mistakes costly for Shields in loss to Blue Jays

Ace allows only two hits in nine innings as Royals drop second straight

Two mistakes costly for Shields in loss to Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY -- Pitch a two-hitter and you figure you'll come out with a victory.

Not James Shields, not on Saturday night.

Shields did just that against the Toronto Blue Jays, but he and the Royals still came up short, 3-2, in a pitching matchup with Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey that 21,960 fans paid to see at Kauffman Stadium. They weren't short-changed.

This is what Blue Jays expected when they obtained Dickey, a 20-game winner last year with the Mets -- dancing knuckleballs and a victory waltz. For six innings, Dickey shut out the Royals and departed in the seventh before they scored. He came into the game with a 0-2 record and an 8.44 ERA to show for his first two starts.

Shields, in his first home start for the Royals, couldn't have been much better.

"Wow, two-hit complete game and he lost the game," Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar said. "That happens, that's baseball, but that's crazy."

Shields felt he made two mistakes, both in the sixth inning. He walked leadoff batter Munenori Kawasaki and then gave up a two-out home run to Jose Bautista that put the Blue Jays ahead, 3-0. It was the fourth career homer that Bautista, an old American League East opponent, had hit off Shields.

"I know him pretty well," Shields said. "They're a pretty good hitting team over there. If you make mistakes, they're going to hit you and tonight I felt I made two bad mistakes, and that was that walk and the home run."

Bautista connected on a 2-1 pitch from Shields, sending a drive high and deep just inside the left-field foul pole. It was estimated at a robust 417 feet.

"He pitched a great ballgame," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He threw 115 pitches and if he could take one back, it would probably be the curveball to Bautista. He just got it up a little bit and he's one of the strongest guys in the league, and he ended up hitting a two-run homer off it."

"To Bautista, I was trying to get the ball down and left it over the middle of the plate," Shields said. "And that leadoff walk. ... It's not acceptable to walk the leadoff hitter right there."

The Blue Jays' first run in the third inning stirred some controversy. Maicer Izturis led off with a double down the right-field line, took third on a groundout and tagged up as right fielder Jeff Francoeur settled under Kawasaki's fly ball in right-center.

Francoeur got off a strong, accurate throw. Catcher Salvador Perez stuck his left foot in front of home plate and swept a tag onto Izturis, but home-plate umpire Jerry Meals called him safe.

"I think I blocked home plate," Perez said. "He touched my foot, I don't think he ever touched home plate. After that inning, we went to see the replay and he was out. ... He pushed my foot, but he never touched home plate, it was my foot that touched home plate."

Maybe, maybe not, but the run was in.

Meantime, Dickey kept the Royals guessing with his knuckleball and survived some threats in the first six innings. After two outs in the first, Billy Butler walked and Perez doubled, but Butler was held at third. Lorenzo Cain hit a sizzling liner right to the second baseman.

"I had a decent line-out. It might have been two runs right there and been a different ballgame," Cain said.

In the fifth, Chris Getz hit a one-out double and got as far as third, but was stranded. Perez got a one-out single in the sixth and took second when a knuckler got away from catcher Henry Blanco, but Dickey pitched out of it.

Good chances that got away?

"Naw, we could never muster a consistent attack on him," Yost said. "His knuckleball was really dancing tonight. We just never could get any consistent momentum going against him where we could put some runs on the board."

However, when Jarrod Dyson doubled to left field with one out in the Royals' seventh, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons didn't hesitate. He quickly signaled for left-hander Darren Oliver in the bullpen and pulled Dickey.

"He was getting up there in pitches [100] and we wanted him to end on a good note," Gibbons said. "His first two games were a little bit rough."

Just as quickly, Dyson stole third base and scored as Getz legged out a bunt to first base. But then Oliver dug in and got two outs without further damage. The run was charged to Dickey, but his knuckleball won raves from the Royals.

"It was tough to read. It was going away from us and then two-seaming in on us. So he had it working tonight," Cain said.

The Royals added a run in the ninth against closer Casey Janssen, when Getz singled with two outs, advanced to second and scored on Alex Gordon's single up the middle.

The loss, the Royals' second straight, enabled the Detroit Tigers to tie them for first place in the AL Central, each with a 6-5 record. The Blue Jays, a popular preseason pick in the East, improved to 5-6.

This was the 20th complete game in Shields' career and he's won 15 of them. Not this time.

"When you're facing Dickey on the other side, who was pretty good, you can't make mistakes," Shields said. "And I felt I made two bad mistakes, and obviously it cost us tonight."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.