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Astros Vs. Rays: Rodriguez Duels With Shields

(Sports Network) - Right-hander James Shields aims for a third straight superb outing tonight when the Tampa Bay Rays visit Minute Maid Park for the first of three interleague games with the Houston Astros.

A 16th-round pick of the Rays in 2000, Shields has been a staff mainstay for the past several seasons as Tampa Bay has climbed to the upper echelons of the American League.

He won 13 games for the Rays last season while logging 203 1/3 innings and has already pitched 112 2/3 innings through 15 starts in 2011.

His last two starts have been the best of the season, resulting in complete- game wins over Boston and Florida while he's given up just a run on nine hits with three walks and 15 strikeouts.

Shields has never faced the Astros, but is 4-1 in seven road starts.

Houston counters with similarly streaking lefty Wandy Rodriguez, who's won three straight starts and four straight decisions.

The 31-year-old fell to 1-3 on the season with a 4-1 loss at Milwaukee on April 24, but is 4-0 with three no-decisions since while paring his earned run average from 5.40 to 2.88.

His last start came June 18 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and resulted in a 7-0 win after he gave up seven hits in six scoreless innings.

He blanked Atlanta over six innings a start before on June 13, giving up just two hits in a game the Astros won, 8-3.

Since the late April loss, Rodriguez has allowed just seven runs across 48 innings in seven starts.

He's 0-1 lifetime against Tampa Bay in two starts.

On Wednesday in Milwaukee, after giving up two early runs, David Price silenced hitters to lead Tampa Bay over the Brewers, 6-3, in the rubber match of a three-game series at Miller Park.

Price (8-6) went eight innings, giving up just two runs on five hits while fanning 10. After surrendering the two first-inning runs, Price allowed just three hits and one walk the rest of the way.

He got the win thanks to Elliot Johnson, who hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning. Kelly Shoppach also homered for the Rays, who have won five of their last six games.

In Arlington, pinch-hitter Matt Downs capped a four-run ninth inning with a tie-breaking two-run home run to lead the Astros past the Texas Rangers, 5-3, in the finale of a three-game interleague set.

Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson had doubles while Jason Michaels added a pair of hits for the Astros, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Mark Melancon (5-1) worked two innings of relief to pick up the win for Houston.

The Rays won two of three over the Astros in Houston last season.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.