ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Except for one pitch, Tampa Bay starter James Shields couldn’t have done any better against the Texas Rangers.
For the offensively challenged Rays against Yu Darvish, that was still too much to overcome.
Darvish struck out 10 over seven innings and Ian Kinsler hit a solo homer for the Rangers, who got their third 1-0 victory at home this season Tuesday night.
“I’m happy with the way I pitched,” Shields 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 would have been different.”
Shields (12-8) allowed only three hits over his seven innings, including Kinsler’s homer on a full-count pitch leading off the fourth. The right-hander struck out eight, walked two and hit a batter.
And the Rays had some chances against Darvish in this pitchers’ duel.
Tampa Bay got six hits against him and had runners on base in each of the first five innings. Twice, the first two batters reached in an inning before struggling slugger Carlos Pena struck out.
The Rays suffered their fourth 1-0 loss of the season, all coming in their last 22 games this month.
“The pain factor is closer to a 10, when you get shut out 1-0,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve had the displeasure of experiencing that often in the recent past. … It’s hard to believe that we would lose four of them, especially in this ballpark. It’s unusual to see 1-0 games.”
Tampa Bay has been held scoreless eight times this season. That includes five shutout losses in August, when the Rays are 16-9 overall.
Sam Fuld, who wasn’t even in the Rays’ starting lineup, had three of their four hits. He took over in right field in the second inning after Matt Joyce left the game with a left forearm strain.
Darvish (13-9) has a majors-best eight 10-strikeout games. The only Ranger with more in a season was Nolan Ryan, the hard-throwing Hall of Famer who is now the team’s president and watched from the first row. Ryan had 18 such games in 1989.
“As my manager said, that’s exactly what I’m doing right now, is just focusing on pitching, competing against the hitters,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “I’m not worried about the outside stuff, or even giving up walks. I’m just pitching right now.”
After Roberts’ one-out infield single in the fourth loaded the bases, Jose Lobaton grounded to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who started a double play that was completed with Darvish taking the relay throw at first from shortstop Elvis Andrus.
“We had them on the ropes early in the game. Eventually, I thought Darvish got better game-in-progress,” Maddon said. “Early on, he didn’t want to throw his fastball, but he threw it a little more later, then his breaking ball got sharper. We chased a lot of pitches.”
Joe Nathan struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to convert his 25th consecutive save opportunity, matching the Rangers team record while wrapping up the team’s 10th shutout this season. Nathan has retired the last 14 batters he has faced.
Mike Adams took over for Darvish to start the eighth. With a runner at second, Moreland went to his knees while snagging Ben Zobrist’s hopper near the line, spun around to his feet and then sprinted to first for the inning-ending out.
Shields, who was 4-0 his previous five starts, faced the minimum nine batters through the first three innings. He walked David Murphy leading off the third, but promptly picked him off base.
Kinsler pulled a full-count pitch into the seats in left to start the fourth, his 16th homer of the season.
“Just a fastball, a 3-2 count, behind in the count, didn’t really want to walk him, the leadoff hitter of the inning, just a fastball down the middle,” Shields said. “It’s not very fun. These are the games you got to win.”
Notes: Tampa Bay has lost 10 of their last 11 one-run games. … It was the 12th 1-0 game at Rangers Ballpark, which opened in 1994. … John Wetteland converted 25 consecutive save chances for the Rangers from July 1997-May 1998. … Nathan’s career best is 27 straight for Minnesota in 2004, setting a Twins record.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.