Shields tries to right himself versus Mariners

10:27 AM, Jul 20, 2012   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - James Shields was an American League Cy Young Award candidate last season. He's been anything but that the past month and will try to get himself right tonight when the Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game set with the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field.

Shields lost his first start out of the All-Star break on Sunday to the Boston Red Sox, allowing six runs and 11 hits in five innings. He also walked three batters and fell to 8-6, while seeing his ERA rise to 4.44.

"I need to do a better job of making my pitches," Shields said. "They found some holes today, and there is not much I can do about it. I just need to make better pitches."

Shields has now lost six of his last nine decisions and has surrendered four or more runs in each of his last five starts and at least 10 hits in his last four appearances.

"I'm not doing my job right now," Shields said. "The bottom line is I've got to do better."

Shields beat the Mariners earlier in the year and is 4-4 lifetime against them with a 3.86 ERA in 12 starts.

Tampa can only hope Shields delivers the way David Price did on Thursday. Price tossed seven spectacular innings and won his 13th game of the season, while B.J. Upton totaled three hits and three RBI in the Rays' 6-0 defeat of Cleveland.

Luke Scott homered and Jeff Keppinger added two hits and an RBI for the Rays, who managed a split in the four-game series.

Price (13-4) allowed just two hits and three walks while fanning seven to take the AL lead in victories. He surged ahead of Texas' Matt Harrison for the honor.

Seattle, meanwhile, also enters on a high note after Jesus Montero finished 3- for-4 with a solo home run and four RBI to lead the Mariners over Kansas City, 6-1, on Thursday.

Michael Saunders and Brendan Ryan drove in a run each for the Mariners, who took three of four in the series.

"It was definitely a good series offensively to get some big hits and have a lot of extra base hits," said Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager. "I felt like in this series it was really good for us to get a little confidence going forward."

Felix Hernandez (8-5) worked eight strong innings, scattering eight hits and one run while striking out three.

Tonight, Seattle will rely on Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma, who is 1-2 with a 5.13 ERA. Iwakuma lost to Texas on Sunday, allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings.

Iwakuma, who has never faced the Rays, has pitched to a 6.30 ERA in two starts since moving into the rotation.

Tampa has won the last eight in this series, including 11 of 12 from the Mariners at home.

The Sports Network

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