ST. PETERSBURG -- "Big Game James" lived up to his nickname Thursday night.
James Shields held the Phillies scoreless for 5 2/3 innings to lead the Rays to a 4-2 win at Tropicana Field in Game 2 of the World Series to knot the series at one game apiece. Shields struck out four and scattered seven hits.
The Series now shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3, 4 and 5 after an off-day on Friday.
"Obviously, you don't want to go in there 0-2, but even if we did, I don't think any of us would press," Rays center fielder B.J. Upton said. "But at the same time, we're going in there at 1-1. It's a little better situation."
The Rays got busy early Thursday night. Akinori Iwamura drew a leadoff walk in the first and moved to third when Upton singled to right. Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth bobbled the throw to allow Upton to reach second. Both runners then scored on successive groundouts by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria to put the Rays up, 2-0.
"I can't tell you how happy I was with that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm watching that ... I turned to [bench coach] Davey Martinez and I said, 'This is what we have to emphasize next year in Spring Training, scoring runs with outs.' I really want us to understand, it's being validated when you play this time of year, under these circumstances, [it is important] to be able to have that within your arsenal, to score runs with outs."
Rocco Baldelli stressed that getting some runs on the scoreboard early gave the Rays a nice boost of momentum.
"[The early runs were] huge, especially after losing the first game of the series. To come out in the second game and get those runs, it was big for our confidence," Baldelli said. "[It] just put us in the driver's seat. Scoring first is definitely a good sign."
In the second inning, Upton singled to right to drive home Dioner Navarro, but Baldelli was thrown out at home plate on the play as the Rays settled for a 3-0 lead. The Rays then reached into their bag of small-ball tactics and pulled out a safety squeeze in the fourth when Jason Bartlett got down the bunt against Phillies starter Brett Myers to score Cliff Floyd.
The 2008 World Series is the 16th since 1969 to be even after Game 2. Six of the first 15 series have gone on to seven games, and the team that won Game 2 went on to win the Series eight times.
Mets in 5
Athletics in 7
Athletics in 5
Reds in 7
Yankees in 6
Pirates in 7
Cardinals in 7
Orioles in 5
Tigers in 5
Blue Jays in 6
Blue Jays in 6
Marlins in 7
Angels in 7
Marlins in 6
Cardinals in 5
* - Home team for Game 2
"Speed kills, baby," Floyd said. "That's Joe right there. On that one, when I got the sign, I was looking in the dugout, then I was looking at [third-base coach Tom] Foley like, 'Are you serious?' But these legs still can move a little bit.
"The type of situation this is, I'm going to make myself move. I knew I had to score and it was just a good bunt by Bartlett. Thank God I got in there. ... [It was] probably the first safety squeeze I've been a part of. But we scored a run, so that was huge."
Shields effectively pitched out of jams in the second through fifth innings, gaining a major assist from Baldelli in the fifth, when he ran a long way in right field to flag down Chase Utley's one-out drive and then threw to an empty first base. Pena looked like a wide receiver on a timing route as he converged on the ball and the bag at the same time to double off Werth for the third out.
"I think Chase might have hit it off the end of his bat or it just didn't come off his bat very hard," Baldelli said. "And I broke in and peeked up and saw Werth was just off first like he was making his way toward second, and I just came up throwing. I just took a chance."
Shields again got into trouble in the sixth when the Phillies put runners at first and third with two outs, prompting Maddon to go to the bullpen.
"I thought I pitched pretty well," Shields said. "I thought my stuff was good, and my changeup was exceptional tonight. I felt they did a good job of battling, taking pitches and being patient."
If there were not an off-day on Friday, Maddon likely would have gone longer with Shields, but he went to his rested bulllpen with Shields at 104 pitches. Dan Wheeler took over and retired Pedro Feliz on a fielder's choice to end the threat.
After walking the leadoff batter in the seventh, Wheeler struck out the next two hitters before giving way to left-hander David Price, who was brought in to pitch to the left-handed-hitting Utley. The rookie phenom walked Utley before striking out Ryan Howard looking to end the threat.
Price returned to pitch the eighth and retired the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a solo home run on the first pitch to pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett that cut the Rays' lead to 4-1. Price then got Feliz to ground out to end the inning.
Price also pitched the ninth, giving up a leadoff double to Carlos Ruiz, who scored on a one-out error. Then it was time to face Utley and Howard again. His strategy?
GAME 3: JUST THE FACTS
Citizens Bank Park, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
Rays starter: RHP Matt Garza
2008: 11-9, 3.70 ERA
2008 on the road: 4-6, 4.53 ERA
2008 vs. Phillies: Did not face
Career vs. Phillies: Did not face
2008 postseason: 2-1, 3.32 ERA
Career postseason: 2-1, 3.32 ERA
Phillies starter: LHP Jamie Moyer
2008: 16-7, 3.71 ERA
2008 at home: 6-4, 4.61 ERA
2008 vs. Rays: Did not face
Career vs. Rays: 8-4, 2.85 ERA (15 starts)
2008 postseason: 0-2, 13.50 ERA
Career postseason: 3-3, 4.11 ERA
World Series tied 1-1: It's the first time since 2006 that the World Series began with a split and the fifth time since 1995. Of the five teams to earn a split, only the '02 Angels won Game 2 and the Fall Classic as well.
Did You Know? The Phillies are hitting just 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the Fall Classic. Philadelphia's 0-for-19 mark to start the series was the second-longest drought in World Series history behind the 1966 Dodgers, who started 0-for-22 against the Orioles, who went on to win the title in a sweep.
"Just make good pitches, you know?" Price said. "[Howard's] human, just like everybody else out there. He doesn't have any super powers. So just make the pitch, keep the ball down, because he can definitely hit it over the fence. So just keep it down, and make the pitcher's pitch and just get him out."
And so he did. After striking out Utley, Price induced Howard to hit a grounder to Iwamura.
Maddon said he was hoping Price would not have to face Utley and Howard a second time.
"[I was) really looking for him to not have to face those two guys again," Maddon said. "But if he had to, he's been a starter, he's been stretched out. That's the difference with him and other relief pitchers, is the fact he's been stretched out. You feel comfortable with him going 40 pitches and not even blinking an eye."
While the Rays had to be feeling good after Thursday night's win, the Phillies had to be scratching their heads after going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position -- and that one hit was an infield single that did not drive in a run. All told, Phillies hitters are 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position for the first two games.
"That's kind of really over the top because the Phillies are very dangerous," Maddon said. "But we've had really good pitching. I think [we had] the second-best ERA in the American League. You look at the bullpen, what they have done this year ... I know that's pretty significant, [1-for-28], but we're capable of doing that."
Floyd shrugged his shoulders and smiled when talking about what the Rays accomplished Thursday night.
"There's going to be tough situations you're going to have to fight through. We've been in that position before," Floyd said. "So it wasn't something that wasn't the norm. We lost the first game of the ALCS, so guys understand how to handle certain situations. We were able to get some big hits out of B.J, and Shieldsy settled down and gave us a great outing.
"This is how we play. I hope at the end of the season, nobody has a heart attack around here, because it's just so tight. Every situation comes out. Ninth inning, eighth inning, something's always going on with us. But it's good baseball. Good solid baseball. That's what we've been playing all year. Why stop now, I guess."
And just like that, the World Series is all tied up and headed to the City of Brotherly Love.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.