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Rays even it up Shields delivers, lefty phenom seals it Tampa Bay earns first ever victory in Fall Classic

Some big work on the mound and some small ball at the plate. That was the combination the Tampa Bay Rays used Thursday night to get even in the World Series.

"This is what as kids we dreamed of doing and our crowd was electric," starting pitcher James Shields said after throwing 5 2/3 shutout innings in the Rays' 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies before 40,843 at Tropicana Field. "It's an exciting time in our lives and we're just trying to enjoy the moment."

The Rays scored a pair of first-inning runs on RBI ground outs by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, one in the second on B.J. Upton's RBI single and another another on Jason Bartlett's fourth-inning squeeze to lead, 4-0. Shields, a 14-game winner in the regular season, wriggled in and out of trouble with four key strikeouts.

Lefty David Price, the No. 1 pick in last year's draft who didn't even make his big league debut until last month, went the final 2 1/3 innings to seal the first Series win in the franchise's 11-year history.

The series is thus even at a win apiece and the teams took off immediately after the game for Philadelphia, where they will work out today in Citizens Bank Park. Game Three is scheduled for Saturday night, although there is a 70 percent chance of rain that could alter the schedule. American League Championship Series MVP Matt Garza will start for the Rays against 45-year-old Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer.

The Phillies need to find some offense in this series -- fast. After setting a Series record for futility by going 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position in their Game One win Wednesday, they went 1 for 15 in Game Two, with the lone hit being Shane Victorino's infield single in the fourth that didn't even score a run.

That means they're 1 for 28 overall in key spots, and they've left 11 men on base in each game.

Misery loves company in the Philly lineup. Leadoff man Jimmy Rollins is 0 for 10, Ryan Howard is 2 for 9 and Pat Burrell is 0 for 6.

"It looks like we might be trying too hard but we can fix that," said manager Charlie Manuel.

"You go through times of not getting good swings," Rollins said. "Unfortunately, it's right now."

Although it wasn't a save situation because he entered with a four-run lead, Price pitched with pressure on him as if it was. He gave up a run in the eighth on Eric Bruntlett's pinch homer and an unearned tally in the ninth on an Evan Longoria error that scored Carlos Ruiz.

But with the tying run at the plate, Price struck out Chase Utley and retired Howard on a ground ball to end the game.

"I was nervous, very," said Price. "I usually don't even sweat out there and my hat looks like I went swimming with it. [The World Series] is definitely different."

"I love it," said catcher Dioner Navarro. "He comes in throwing strikes, throwing 96-97 [mph] with a nasty slider."

Price, who saved the ALCS clincher against Boston, had the full confidence of manager Joe Maddon.

"Remember, he's been a starter [in the minor leagues]," Maddon said. "He's been stretched out. That's the difference with him over other relief pitchers. You feel comfortable with him going 40 pitches [Price threw 42] and not even blinking an eye."

Price gave up a leadoff double to Ruiz in the ninth and then got a huge break as plate umpire Kerwin Danley missed a pitch that clearly hit Rollins' jersey. Instead of being at first, Rollins had to finish his at-bat and popped up to shortstop Bartlett in short left field.

It was the second Danley faux pas that benefited the Rays.

In the second, Danley rang up Rocco Baldelli on a full-count pitch, clearly giving the standard out call by raising his right fist. But Danley then went to first base ump Fieldin Culbreth on appeal and Culbreth ruled no swing, allowing Baldelli to take first on a walk. That allowed Upton to drive in Navarro.

Shields wriggled in and out of trouble, allowing seven hits and two walks. But he struck out four and consistently frustrated the Phillies at key spots, to live up to his nickname of "Big Game" that he earned in the minor leagues.

"It was a joke at first. I pitch a couple good games in the minors and the next thing you know, the whole organization is calling me Big Game," Shields said. "They don't even call me by my first name anymore."

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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