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Maddon impressed by Rays' fight in loss

Maddon impressed by Rays' fight in loss

TORONTO -- According to Rays manager Joe Maddon there are times when the outcome of a ballgame is not as important as the effort put in -- to Maddon, Saturday was one of those games.

Amidst a barrage of Blue Jays home runs, an abysmal outing from starting pitcher James Shields, and the Rays' bullpen allowing nine runs over four innings, Maddon remained proud of his troops -- proud they refused to give up -- in a 17-11 thumping from the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.

"I really loved the way we stayed with it all the way through," Maddon said. "The fact we made them use several pitchers, we always look for winning those little battles within the war. I really appreciated our guys' effort today."

In spite of his team's never-quit attitude and the odd battle that was won, the Rays surrendered a franchise record eight home runs, including six by Shields.

Coming off a dazzling 7 1/3-inning, one-run performance against the Yankees on Sunday, Shields did not look like the same pitcher this time around.

Shields went as far to deem his outing as "disgusting" -- and rightfully so.

The right-hander gave up eight runs on nine hits over just four innings, before being replaced by Dale Thayer, who was optioned to Triple-A Durham following the game, to begin the fifth. All nine hits surrendered by Shields were for extra bases -- three doubles and six home runs.

Shields tied a Major League record by becoming just the eighth pitcher in the Modern Era to serve up six long balls, and the last non-knuckleballer since 1940 to reach that mark. His previous career-high in home runs allowed was three, which he had experienced on six occasions.

"There was nothing going right when I was out there," said Shields, who tried lobbying with Maddon to go back out and start the fifth. "I was out of rhythm, my timing was off, didn't hit any spots tonight, and they took advantage of it, obviously."

The home run parade for the Blue Jays started in second when J.P. Arencibia took a first pitch offering from Shields deep to left field in his first Major League at-bat. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista also homered, with second baseman Aaron Hill contributing two jacks of his own.

Arencibia, who went 4-for-5, added another home run in the sixth -- this time off Thayer -- to round out his debut. Lyle Overbay hit the eighth and final shot of the day, a three-run blast off Chad Qualls in the seventh. With the performance the Jays increased their Major League leading home run total to 175.

"The guy can swing the bat a little bit," said Maddon of Arencibia. "I read what he had done in Triple-A and you think, 'OK, it's Vegas.' So there is always the Vegas factor where the ball travels in the thin air. I've been there, I understand that, but this guy is legit. He has a legit swing.

"He hit the home run ball to left, then shoots the ball hard to the right side. That was the impressive part, he wasn't just up there trying to hit homers, or pull homers, he used the whole field [and] that makes him a little bit more scary."

The Rays' offense which has been off-and-on during the club's current four-game skid, grinded out 11 runs on nine hits, with four tallies coming in the final frame.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, who has been on the losing end of a few late rallies from the Rays this season, admitted to being slightly nervous when his club loaded the bases with one out in the ninth.

"It ended up [that] we needed every on of those runs," a relieved Gaston said.

First baseman Dan Johnson was the big contributor, plating four runs, while hitting his first home run of the season in the seventh off reliever Brian Tallet. B.J. Upton also chipped in two RBIs, going 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI walk.

The Rays' bullpen surrendered an uncharacteristic nine runs after Shields' departure in the fourth. Coming into Saturday, the Rays' 3.56 ERA was the lowest by any American League team on this date since the 1997 Orioles posted a 3.53 mark.

While his squad certainly didn't perform like playoff contenders, Maddon insisted that as much as he'd like to throw the game in trash, it was undoubtedly a character builder.

"I love the fight," Maddon said. "We score 11 runs and we play nine innings hard. That's why I can't ask more from our guys, and I love that. I thought it was great. They had to get [Scott Downs] warmed up at the end, a lot of teams would have packed it in a lot sooner -- we did not.

"That was my take away from today -- really appreciate the effort from our guys."

James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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