ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields has not won since May 14, when he pitched a one-hitter against the Angels at Tropicana Field, a span that includes seven starts.
Some might look at the 4-5 record and suggest that Shields is struggling this season, a suggestion that prompted a smile from the Rays right-hander.
"I would disagree, definitely," Shields said. "I think I'm pitching well. I think I've pitched well all season long."
Shields pitched 6 1/3 innings against the Cubs on Thursday night, allowing three runs with nine strikeouts and two walks. In his previous outing against the Angels -- which took place prior to his serving a six-game suspension for events that took place against the Red Sox -- Shields pitched a complete game even though he allowed six runs.
While he does have a losing record, when looking closer at the numbers one can see Shields is on the mark. In those last two games he pitched 14 1/3 innings and allowed runs in just three innings while striking out 18. In addition, he's thrown 96 innings despite going just one inning in his last start against Boston due to his ejection.
"I think I've been pretty consistent," Shields said. "I feel like I'm throwing well and my stuff is getting better. [Thursday] night was one of the better games I've thrown this season, stuff wise. ... My changeup was dropping straight down instead of side to side. I threw my changeup really well."
The Rays are 9-6 in games that he's started this season.
"I think I'm keeping the team in the game," Shields said. "Just because I'm not getting wins doesn't mean it's not good."
Rays manager Joe Maddon believes Shields is every bit as consistent as he was in 2007.
"He's going to hit a real hot streak," Maddon said. "We just need to get him back on that regular beat again."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.