HOUSTON (AP) - One bad inning sent Wandy Rodriguez to his first loss in exactly two months.
Rodriguez surrendered consecutive homers to Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton during Tampa Bay's four-run third and James Shields tossed his third consecutive complete game to lead the Rays to a 5-1 win over the Astros on Friday night.
``It was really too bad that Wandy had a rough third inning,' Astros manager Brad Mills said. ``He had two outs, a 3-2 count on the hitter after striking out the first two hitters, and they were able to capitalize and get four runs. That was huge.'
Rodriguez (5-4) looked good the first time through the Tampa Bay lineup, but a change of catchers and the delay that came with it messed up his location just enough for the Rays to take advantage.
He allowed five runs and six hits in six innings to lose for the first time since April 24. He had been 4-0 in seven starts since then.
Longoria hit a two-run shot before Upton's drive gave Tampa Bay back-to-back homers for the first time this season. Sean Rodriguez had three hits and scored twice and Longoria also drove in a run in the fifth.
Houston catcher J.R. Towles left in the third after getting hit by a foul ball in the chin. Carlos Corporan replaced Towles, but Rodriguez said he had trouble with his location immediately after the switch.
``I think I missed my location with Corporan because Corporan, he has like a low zone and tight, but Towles is a little more open,' Rodriguez said. ``That's not my excuse. My situation is that I missed a lot of my location with Corporan (but) I don't want to make it an excuse that I pitched bad because of Corporan.'
Rodriguez said he would have been fine if Corporan started because they would have had a chance to warm up in the bullpen before the game. He added that the delay with the change in catchers caused him to lose his concentration and miss his location.
Following the delay, Shields struck out, but Sean Rodriguez got Tampa Bay's first hit of the game on a single to left field. He stole second and scored on Ben Zobrist's single to break a streak of 14 2-3 scoreless innings by Rodriguez.
Longoria then went deep, and Upton's drive to the Crawford Boxes in left field pushed the lead to 4-0. A fan appeared to reach over the wall to grab the ball and the play was reviewed, but the call was upheld.
``You are in a situation where these guys are major league pitchers, so they should be able to adjust,' Mills said of the change in catchers. ``Everything happened so quickly. Single, home run, home run. I don't know if it did or not, but you would have liked him to move past that, and then focus.'
Shields (8-4) allowed three hits, struck out nine and walked one. He leads the majors with six complete games this season.
Chris Johnson drove in Houston's run with a double in the seventh inning. It was the first earned run Shields has allowed in his last three starts.
``He had some good stuff tonight,' Houston's Michael Bourn said. ``He was spotting every pitch. He was spotting his fastball and throwing his off-speed for strike. He made it tough on us. It wasn't like we were out of whack. He was just on.'
NOTES: Towles needed 11 stitches to close a gash that he got after a pitch bounced off the dirt and hit him under the chin, but did not have a concussion. ... Houston C Humberto Quintero is likely about two weeks away from coming off the disabled list. He has been out since May 28 after sustaining a high right ankle sprain in a collision at home plate. ... Rays reliever J.P. Howell was back with the team after missing Wednesday's game because of gout that was causing pain in his left foot. ... Houston optioned reliever Fernando Rodriguez to Triple-A Oklahoma City and purchased the contract of C Brian Esposito from there after the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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