Shields off his game, but gives Royals shot

Allows three runs, strikes out four over six innings in no-decision

Shields off his game, but gives Royals shot

CHICAGO -- Pitcher James Shields has done this long enough that he knows one thing: If you don't have your best stuff, you've got to find a way to make things work.

And that's what he did in the Royals' 6-3 victory over the White Sox on Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. He got through six innings despite running up 112 pitches and gave up just three runs and five hits.

"I couldn't find a rhythm all game," Shields said. "I think the one inning that I found my rhythm was my last. Which is a good sign. I had my 100th pitch and I started to get into a good rhythm. I didn't find my good stuff tonight, but sometimes, when you don't have your good stuff, you've got to battle."

Shields didn't get the victory -- that went to reliever Kelvin Herrera -- so he'll finish the season with a 14-8 record. Rookie Yordano Ventura, scheduled to start on Sunday, could pass him with 15 victories if he wins that game.

"James wasn't exceptionally sharp tonight, but what he does is he competes his tail off and he limits and controls damage," manager Ned Yost said. "To get through six innings like he did was phenomenal. He kept us in the ballgame and did exactly what we needed him to do so we could put some runs on the board and win a game."

Shields is finishing strong. In his last six starts, he has a 2.14 ERA with a 2-1 record.

He has respect for the White Sox offense.

"These guys swing it, there's no doubt about it. We've got to be careful with these guys. I had some tough innings out there and got through it," he said.

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