BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - James Shields tipped his cap to the cheering McKechnie Field crowd when he was lifted with two outs in the sixth inning of the Tampa Bay Rays' 8-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
There didn't seem to be much to cheer about in the Rays' opening day starter's fourth - and worst - outing of the spring.
Shields gave up five runs, three earned, and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.
Shields had his moments, such as when he picked Nick Evans off third base in the second inning and later picked Nate McLouth off second base in the fifth.
``I definitely got my work in today,' Shields said. ``I threw a lot of pitches today. Overall I didn't really feel too great out there. I got a couple of pickoffs today which felt good, but other than that I got my work in today and that's all you can really ask for.'
There was even an inning or two in which Shields focused solely on his fastball.
``He was working on some things,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``There was an inning or two that he was just going to throw fastballs only, so he was working on stuff at the same time, so it was a very productive day.'
Pirates starter Jeff Karstens gave up three runs, two earned, and four hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out three and walked four, much to his displeasure.
``Four free passes,' Karstens said. ``That's an extra 16 pitches. I was supposed to go six innings today. That could have been the last inning that I needed.'
``It was very uncharacteristic for him,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``Four walks in the outing. He wasn't sharp today. He battled.'
Hurdle said Erik Bedard will be Pittsburgh's opening day starter, and Karstens will follow at No. 2. With that role, Karstens knows he needs to work out the kinks in exhibition play.
``Obviously you want to take the positives out of it,' Karstens said of his outing. ``For me, I'm just more mad. If I give up those runs on hits, that's one thing. But when I walk guys and I'm giving them free passes, just making my defense sit out there. That's not something that can happen.
``It's got to be one of those things that needs to be fixed. It's got to be adjusted. I know that.'
Rod Barajas homered off Shields with two outs in the fourth and Yamaico Navarro led off the sixth inning with a shot to left.
Navarro, whom the Pirates acquired in an offseason trade with the Kansas City Royals, struggled coming into the game, batting just .059 in his past 10 games. But he had three hits on Thursday.
``He had a little bit of a struggle,' Hurdle said of Navarro. ``He started off extremely well. We had him trying to incorporate a little knee tuck that he had earlier that he got away from for whatever reason. He put it back into play yesterday, and I think there was some benefit today. Gave him better timing, gave him better balance at the plate. He put some good swings on the ball today. That was really good to see.'
Note: Rays LF Desmond Jennings (shoulder) was a late scratch from Tampa Bay's travel roster. He could DH in a minor league game Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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