CLEVELAND » As Tampa Bay’s regulars wolfed down postgame meals while peeking at an NL afternoon game on the clubhouse TVs, their travel bags were packed and stacked on a cart outside in the hallway, ready for delivery to the airport.
It was time to go home.
The Rays have finished their road work.
James Shields pitched seven strong innings to finally beat Cleveland, and the Rays improved baseball’s best road record with a 7-4 win yesterday over Justin Masterson and the Indians, who lost for just the second time in 16 home games.
With 10 wins in their last 11 on the road, the Rays are 13-5 outside Florida’s borders. And, after a dreadful 1-8 start, they’ve gone 21-7.
"By now it’s been forgotten,” Shields said of the club’s horrendous April opening. “We’re playing on all cylinders right now.”
Shields (4-1) gave up two runs and scattered seven hits, piggybacking off David Price’s dominant performance on Wednesday night, when Tampa Bay’s ace stopped Cleveland’s home winning streak at 14. The right-hander came in 0-4 in six career starts against Cleveland, the only AL team he had never beaten.
"I beat Cleveland, at Cleveland," he said. "I got one more on my bucket list."
Shields improved to 4-0 with 1.12 ERA in his last five starts overall.
Reid Brignac, Sam Fuld and Evan Longoria had two RBIs apiece as the Rays handed Masterson his first loss.
"If you’re looking for a little bit of a litmus test, there it was," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "What can I ever complain about? Win or lose the effort is there every day. I just have to sit there and make the right decisions. Our guys came ready to play."
Cleveland outfielder Grady Sizemore missed his second straight game with a bruised right knee. An MRI exam showed no structural damage, a huge relief to the Indians and Sizemore, who sat out most of 2010 after undergoing microfracture surgery on his other knee.