OAKLAND, Calif. -- James Shields continues to pitch like the No. 1 guy the Royals expected when they acquired him in that big off-season deal from Tampa Bay. And the Royals continue to waste his efforts.
Shields gave up two runs Friday night in eight innings but only found more disappointment when the Royals’ attack again went quiet in a 2-1 loss to the Oakland A’s at the O.co Coliseum.
“Today is just a case of me not doing my job,” Shields argued. “That’s it. Bottom line. I don’t care what the score of the game is. I didn’t get the job down there at the end. It’s a tough loss. A real tough loss.”
The Royals did stake Shields, 2-4, to a 1-0 lead on David Lough’s two-out RBI double in the third but failed to do anything more against A’s starter Jarrod Parker, who entered the game with a 6.86 ERA.
But nothing more.
“Whenever (Shields) steps on the mound,” manager Ned Yost said, “he competes his heart out. It’s just those games where we can’t give him too much support.”
Shields paid dearly for surrendering leadoff homers in the seventh inning to Josh Donaldson and in the eighth to Adam Rosales.
“I can control what I do out there,” Shields said. “I’m facing a good pitcher over there. Parker pitched a really good game. I’ve been facing good pitchers all year. I’m not making excuses.”
Seven of Shields’ eight previous opponents are former All-Stars.
Sean Doolittle, 3-0, got the victory by pitching a scoreless eighth after replacing Parker when Grant Balfour secured his seventh save in seven chances with a scoreless ninth.
Shields delivered his eighth quality start in nine outings and lowered his ERA to 2.45. He also matched a season high with nine strikeouts while limiting the A’s to six hits.
It wasn’t good enough.
The A’s drew even when Donaldson, who powered a 3-1 fastball over the left-field wall to start the eighth. That also ended a 15-inning scoreless streak for Shields at the Oakland Coliseum.
Shields struck out the next three hitters, all looking, but the game was tied. Donaldson’s homer also ensued Parker of a no-decision after holding the Royals to one run and four hits in seven innings.
“We just ran into a guy who had good stuff today,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “Parker’s slider was working. His change-up was working. He was locating his fastball.”
Rosales’ homer came on a 1-1 slider that Shields said “kind of backed up a little bit.”
The loss dropped the Royals to 20-18 overall and to 2-2 on a nine-game road trip that began with a 2-1 series victory at Los Angeles. It concludes next week with three games in Houston.
The Royals opened the scoring after a one-out double in the third by Salvy Perez, who chugged home when Lough served a two-out blooper over the infield and into short center.
Lough hustled his way to a double, but Parker limited the damage to one run by retiring Alcides Escobar on a fly to right.
Shields benefited from a sparkling play by first baseman Eric Hosmer for the second out in the Oakland third. Hosmer ranged far to his left to get Jed Lowrie’s grounder up the line that appeared headed for the corner.
The Royals missed a chance to extend their lead after Alex Gordon opened the fourth with a single. He advanced to third on two ground outs, and Lorenzo Cain drew a two-out walk by working back from an 0-2 hole.
But Parker kept the score 1-0 by retiring Mike Moustakas on a routine fly to center.
Lough delivered a big defensive play to start the Oakland fourth when Brandon Moss led off with a drive that appeared headed for the right-center gap. Lough cut the ball off and made a strong throw to second for the out.
Replays suggested Moss might have been safe. Very close. Either way, it was Lough’s first major-league assist.
Parker retired eight in a row after that two-out walk to Cain in the fourth -- until Cain drew a one-out walk in the seventh. But Moustakas flied out (again), and Perez grounded to third.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email email@example.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.