ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — James Shields blamed himself for Tampa Bay’s loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Tommy Hanson pitched seven effective innings, Freddie Freeman drove in two runs and Atlanta beat Shields and the Rays 5-3 on Friday night.
“I’ve got to do a better job,” Shields said. “I definitely put that loss on me.”
Shields (6-2) gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings. Luke Scott had two RBIs for Tampa Bay.
“I felt like I was making good pitches up to the fifth inning,” Shields said. “They have good hitters one through nine. You look at them and you definitely know why they are at the top of their division.”
Hanson (5-3) allowed two runs and six hits. Freeman had a run-scoring double and Brian McCann hit an RBI single that put the Braves up 4-2 in the fifth.
Chipper Jones left after seven innings because of a bruised left calf. The Braves’ third baseman stayed in the game after B.J. Upton’s hard one-hop infield single hit his leg in the third. Juan Francisco pinch-hit for Jones in the eighth.
“My career in Tampa is over,” said Jones, who showed reporters a nasty, ball-size bruise just above the ankle while sitting at his locker. “That really hurt. If you’re standing 85 feet from home plate and somebody hits a rocket at you, you better get a glove on it. I didn’t.”
Jones, who is retiring after this season, received a partial standing ovation before his first at-bat leading off the second. After he tipped his helmet to the crowd, Jones singled to center. The Florida native later scored from third to make it 2-0 on a wild pitch by Shields.
“We’ll check it, but he’ll have a tough time playing (Saturday),” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Jonny Venters gave up Scott’s RBI single in the eighth before Craig Kimbrel got three outs for his 12th save.
“We had guys out there (on base),” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Getting that big hit a little more consistently would be nice, but we just need to continue to attack.”
Martin Prado doubled and scored on Freeman’s single as the Braves took a 1-0 lead in the first. Prado extended Atlanta’s advantage to 5-2 on a solo homer off J.P. Howell in the seventh.
Tampa Bay got within 2-1 on Elliot Johnson’s RBI bunt single in the second. Scott tied it 2-all on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the third, when right fielder Jason Heyward made a nice running catch.
NOTES: Jones, who went 1 for 3, enjoys playing in domed stadiums like Tropicana Field. “You don’t have wind, you don’t have rain,” Jones said. “Most baseball players like the conditions perfect.” … The Rays recalled RHP Alex Cobb from Triple-A Durham to start Saturday’s game. He is taking the spot of RHP Jeff Niemann, who is on the 60-day DL with a right leg injury. To make room for Cobb, Tampa Bay optioned RHP Josh Lueke to Durham. … Hanson struck out Rays 1B Carlos Pena on a 14-pitch at-bat in the sixth. Pena is hitting .131 (8 for 61) with 24 strikeouts this month.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.