- Associated Press - Monday, July 7, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - James Shields and Wade Davis helped ruin Tampa Bay’s return after an outstanding road trip.

Shields sparkled in his return to Tropicana Field, limiting the Rays to three hits and striking out 10 over seven innings and the Kansas City Royals beat his former team 6-0 on Monday night.

“We’ve seen that act before,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “He was really good.”

Shields (9-4) spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Rays before being dealt to the Royals in December 2012 as part of a seven-player trade in which Kansas City sent 2013 AL rookie of the year Wil Myers and another top young prospect, Jake Odorizzi (4-8), to Tampa Bay.

Davis, another former Tampa Bay pitcher the Royals obtained in the Shields trade, worked a perfect eighth. Scott Downs finished the combined four-hitter, giving up a ninth-inning single to Ben Zobrist.

The loss was just the third in 13 games for the Rays, who were coming off a road trip in which they went 9-2 to climb out of the AL East cellar.

“Our goal is to win series,” Maddon said after the fourth-place Rays dropped 9 1-2 games behind AL East-leading Baltimore. “And it’s still within our reach over the next few days.”

Odorizzi allowed two runs and six hits, struck out eight and walked two in his third career appearance against the Royals, who beat the 24-year-old in Kansas City on April 9.

Maddon gave his a team a mulligan “coming off a really emotional road trip” that ended with a Sunday night game in Detroit.

“Just bad circumstances, I guess,” Odorizzi said. “I guess we were kind of due for one of these games. I don’t think this game is really going to set us back that much in the long run.”

Shields allowed singles to Zobrist and James Loney in the first two innings, then worked through a jam in the third after giving up a one-out double to Kevin Kiermaier. He retired 10 straight, six by strikeout, before hitting Evan Longoria with a pitch leading off the seventh.

“It’s always nice to pitch on a mound you’ve pitched on before,” Shields said. “A lot of memories on that mound, and once that first pitch happened, it was game on.”

Alex Gordon and Omar Infante drove in runs in the third inning for the Royals, giving Shields all the offensive support he would need to beat Odorizzi.

The Royals tacked on two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth - with Infante and Gordon both collecting their second RBIs of the game - and finished with 14 hits.

Shields won his only previous matchup against his former team 8-2 at Kansas City on April 30, 2013.

He remains Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in wins (87), starts (217) and strikeouts (1,250). He won the franchise’s first-ever postseason game and owns the club’s only World Series victory.

NOTES: Tampa Bay has been shut out an AL-most 12 times this season. … Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson will make his season debut Tuesday night, returning from right elbow surgery. The Royals will counter with LHP Jason Vargas (8-3, 3.32 ERA). … The Rays announced the signing of Dominican Republic prospect Adrian Rondon for $2.95 million on the shortstop’s 16th birthday. Minor league pitcher Matt Ramsey was traded to Miami for the Marlins’ second, third and fourth international bonus slots, a move that provided the team with more than $1 million to go toward the signing of Rondon. … Tampa Bay SS Yunel Escobar (shoulder) is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Tuesday night at Single-A Charlotte.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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