KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Alex Cobb made just about everybody in Tampa Bay forget about James Shields for five stellar innings Tuesday night. The sixth is what separated the youngster from the veteran.
Mike Moustakas hit a go-ahead two-run homer, and the Kansas City Royals chased Cobb with a four-run inning that ultimately launched them to an 8-2 victory over the Rays in their series opener.
The rally also made a winner of James Shields, the longtime Tampa Bay ace who was traded along with fellow right-hander Wade Davis to Kansas City for a package of prospects in December.
``Cobb pitched 5 2-3 innings like a perfectly pitched game,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``And then it fell apart very quickly, and that was unusual to see.'
It happened in the sixth inning with the Rays leading 2-0 on the strength of Matt Joyce's first-inning homer. Eric Hosmer doubled with two outs and Lorenzo Cain drove him in with a single, snapping a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings for Kansas City.
Moustakas then connected off Cobb for his first homer since Sept. 14, a span of 129 at_bats. The drive was followed by a double by Jeff Francoeur and an RBI single by Salvador Perez, and that closed the book on what had been a nice night for the Rays' pitcher with a bright future.
Cobb wound up allowing four runs on 10 hits.
``When I walked off the mound, I think that was the most angry I've ever been after a game,' said Cobb, who pitched into the ninth inning against the Yankees his last time out. ``I felt like from pitch No. 1 I was going to have a smooth, easy-sailing game and go as deep as I could.'
Shields (2-2) allowed the homer by Joyce in the first inning, but only allowed three more hits over the next six. The former All-Star struck out seven in the kind of dominant performance that the Royals were hoping for when they acquired him in December.
He retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced.
The victory snapped a two-game skid and allowed Kansas City to finish 14-10 in April, a dramatic improvement from the 6-15 mark that the Royals carried into May a year ago.
``Shields has been in a Rays' uniform his whole career. He looked a little different standing out there in a different uniform,' Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings said. ``He was mixing up his pitches. He was Shields. He's good, man. He was throwing every pitch, four different pitches for a strike. It was hard to sit on a pitch with him. He's got the good changeup that he's always going to have.'
Kansas City has been looking for a legitimate No. 1 starter for years, and may have mortgaged its future in minor league player of the year Wil Myers to acquire him.
But so far, Shields hasn't done anything to disappoint.
He lost 1-0 to the White Sox on opening day, and tossed a complete game in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays. He's gone at least six innings in every start, and eight his last time out against Detroit.
``That's what we look for form our ace,' Moustakas said. ``He goes out there and battles, and gives up two early and doesn't give up another run the rest of the game.
``We come into the dugout and he's confident in what he's doing, and that gives us confidence.'
Moustakas hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded off reliever Brandon Gomes in the seventh, and Hosmer scored from third when Cain stole second and catcher Jose Molina threw the ball into center field.
Francoeur followed with an RBI triple, giving the Royals a 7-2 lead and Shields the rest of the night off. The Kansas City bullpen pitched two scoreless innings to finish things up.
``The guys had my back - they always do - and that's what this team is all about. We're real resilient,' Shields said. ``We had a couple of tough losses, but we fought back hard tonight. We have a lot of character on this team and we showed it again tonight.'
NOTES: RHP Jeremy Hellickson starts Wednesday night for Tampa Bay. RHP Luis Mendoza takes the mound for Kansas City. ... The Rays activated Luke Scott (right calf strain) from the DL and designated DH Shelley Duncan for assignment. Scott went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved