James Shields fanned 11 hitters en route to his first shutout of the season as the Tampa Bay Rays blanked the Oakland Athletics, 8-0, in the middle installment of a three-game series at the Coliseum.
With the 11 Ks, Shields (9-7) became the first pitcher in team history to strike out 10 or more hitters in three consecutive starts. He allowed just three hits and did not issue a walk in the victory for the Rays, their third in the last four games.
"He had a real simple approach to the game and came out throwing fastballs," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It was textbook, he was outstanding. I loved his approach today. Throw your fastball and hit your spots."
B.J. Upton finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI while Desmond Jennings and Jeff Keppinger added RBI base hits for the Rays. Ben Zobrist, Carlos Pena and Sean Rodriguez each contributed an RBI in the win.
Jemile Weeks, George Kottaras and Chris Carter each had a hit in defeat for the A's, who finished the month of July with an outstanding 19-5 record. They didn't have a runner reach second base all night.
Tom Milone (9-8) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits and a walk over six innings.
"He just probably didn't have his best command," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said about Milone. "I think we probably have to cut him a break. He's been so good here that you're not always going to be that good."
Tampa Bay struck with a pair of runs in the third. Jose Lobaton got things started with a double into the right field corner and Sam Fuld ripped a base hit into right. Upton knocked home Fuld with a single two batters later and stole second before scoring on a groundout by Zobrist.
The Rays extended their lead to 5-0 with three more runs in the sixth. Upton and Zobrist laced consecutive singles to set the table for Keppinger, who drove in Upton with a base hit into left. Pena brought home Zobrist with a sacrifice fly and Rodriguez plated Keppinger with a sharp line drive into center field.
Fuld ripped a one-out single in the Tampa Bay seventh, but was erased on a fielder's choice which left Jennings on first base with two down. The Rays young left fielder then stole second and scored when Upton reached on an error by A's shortstop Brandon Hicks, extending the lead to 6-0.
The Rays added two more runs in the ninth inning. Matt Joyce started the frame with a rocket into the left-center field gap for a double and scored via a base hit by Jennings, who then came around to cross the plate on a fielder's choice by Upton.
Milone had been terrific in front of the home crowd, going 5-1 over his last eight home starts entering play on Tuesday. Despite the loss, the A's finished with the best July record by an American League team since the Yankees went 23-6 (.793) in 1956...Shields improved to 5-3 in 12 career starts against Oakland...It was the Rays' 10th shutout of the season...Oakland did not have any opportunities with runners in scoring position and left just two on base.