ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - James Shields might find himself working during the All-Star break.
Shields threw a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts in his second consecutive complete game, Casey Kotchman had a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning and the Tampa Bay Rays handed the reeling Florida Marlins their 10th loss in a row, 2-1 on Sunday.
``If that does not put him in the All-Star game, I don't know what does,' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ``Five complete games prior to the All-Star game, that does not happen every year. And it's the way he's done it, too. He's just been dominating.'
Shields' latest gem came only hours after Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez unexpectedly resigned. Bench coach Brandon Hyde managed Sunday, but the club will begin a search for an interim manager.
``It's always a sad day when you see a manager resign, but our job is to win ballgames over on this side of the fence, and that's what we did,' Shields said.
Rodriguez, the first Puerto Rican-born manager in major league history, said it was a difficult decision to leave, given the ``positive way the organization is moving, a new ballpark next season and the young core of players.'
``I can't say enough about the effort that this staff and these players have put into this season,' he said in a statement released by the team. ``I could tell that they continued to give 100 percent effort each and every day on the field. I wish this organization and players nothing but success in their futures.'
Shields (7-4) leads the majors with five complete games, and he was coming off a 4-0 shutout over AL East-leading Boston on Tuesday.
``The last couple years I haven't had CGs and this year I told Joe ... 'Hey, I'm ready to finish the ballgames,'' Shields said. ``It was one of those pieces of the puzzle that was missing for me, and to have this many CGs at this point is great. It shows how hard I've been working.'
Shields tied the team record for complete games in a season, set by Joe Kennedy in 2002. The right-hander entered this year with five career complete games.
``James Shields is an All-Star-caliber pitcher,' Hyde said. ``We lost a 2-1 game against a good club. We were a hit here or there from going home with a W.'
Matt Joyce singled to open the eighth against Ryan Webb (1-4) and went to second when the reliever threw out Evan Longoria at first after misplaying a potential double-play grounder. Kotchman then made it 2-1 with his opposite-field single down the third-base line off Randy Choate.
Marlins starter Chris Volstad is winless in 10 straight games - including six losses. He gave up one run and six hits in seven innings. His last win came on April 26 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Gaby Sanchez put the Marlins ahead 1-0 on a first-inning sacrifice fly. Tampa Bay tied it when Ben Zobrist hit a sacrifice fly in the third.
Shields retired 13 in a row before Omar Infante hit a one-out double in the fifth.
Tampa Bay's Sam Fuld took away an extra-base hit from Infante when he made a diving catch on the warning track for the first out in the eighth. The left fielder also ended the inning with another diving effort on Dewayne Wise's soft liner.
``I didn't think he was going to be able to get to that (first one),' Shields said. ``When he hit it, I thought it was a double off the bat, and then as he was running I was saying to myself ... 'Superman Sam might have a chance here.''
NOTES: Rodriguez was at the ballpark and talked with individual players in the manager's office before the game. He did not hold a session with reporters ... Longoria made two errors at third base. One came when he missed a grounder and the other on an errant throw to first.
The Associated Press News Service
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