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Shields outdueled in stellar night on mound

Veteran right-hander strikes out five in seven innings in loss to M's
MLB.com @scottmerkin

SEATTLE -- James Shields started the second half of the 2018 season at Safeco Field doing pretty much what he did throughout the season's first half for the White Sox: Pitching well, but not getting a victory.

Seattle claimed a 3-1 win Friday night, despite Shields (4-11) going seven innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits while striking out five. The right-hander has worked at least six innings 15 times in his last 17 trips to the mound.

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SEATTLE -- James Shields started the second half of the 2018 season at Safeco Field doing pretty much what he did throughout the season's first half for the White Sox: Pitching well, but not getting a victory.

Seattle claimed a 3-1 win Friday night, despite Shields (4-11) going seven innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits while striking out five. The right-hander has worked at least six innings 15 times in his last 17 trips to the mound.

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The veteran hurler is doing now for the White Sox (33-63) what the club needed him to do when they acquired him from San Diego for infield prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. in 2016. As Shields has stressed on a number of occasions, his body has responded better overall in '18 compared to past seasons with the White Sox.

"Yeah, my body is feeling good," said Shields after throwing 62 of his 103 pitches for strikes. "That's my main focus this whole entire year. I'm responding really well every start. Trying to grind this thing out."

Video: CWS@SEA: Renteria talks after road loss in Seattle

"Again, tremendous outing by James. He kept us in there," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Gives us seven innings of great pitching. Got through a couple little pieces of traffic, but otherwise did a very, very nice job. It's what he's been doing quite a bit now for us this season. As I was mentioning, his record doesn't reflect his performance. He's really been throwing the ball really, really well."

Daniel Palka doubled home a run off of Seattle starter Wade LeBlanc in the first, but Nelson Cruz's sacrifice fly tied the game in the bottom of the inning. The Mariners scored the deciding run on Ryon Healy's 107.7 mph grounder off of third baseman Yolmer Sanchez in the fourth inning, with runners on first and third and one out.

Video: CWS@SEA: Palka crushes an RBI double to center field

Sanchez appeared to have a play at the plate on Kyle Seager after recovering the hard-hit grounder, although it would have been a tough angle on the throw. But he went to first base for the second out and Seager scored. Renteria backed Sanchez's decision.

"It would have been tough, only because knocking it down, he was going to be off balance," Renteria said. "If he forces that, we don't get an out there. He scores a run anyways. He did exactly what he should have done: He secured an out and didn't allow that to keep developing."

LeBlanc, who struck out a career-high-tying 10, retired 11 in a row after a two-out walk issued to Yoan Moncada in the fourth, but departed after Omar Narvaez's eighth-inning single.The southpaw battled Shields in what was the right-hander's 395th career start. Shields' five strikeouts gave him 2,177 overall and moved him past Vida Blue for 65th place on the all-time list.

Those numbers represent a body of career-long consistency for Shields. It's the sort of consistency potentially sought after by a playoff contender, with Shields an affordable choice behind the remainder of $10 million owed him in '18 on his four-year, $75 million deal agreed upon with the Padres prior to 2015.

"I mean, you know, I've been in this game a long time. I understand the business part," said Shields, who has a team option for $16 million in '19 along with a $2 million buyout. "But I only can control what I can control.

"That's go out every five days and pitch the best I can for my team I'm playing for right now. So, I'm going to go out every five days and pitch my game and see what happens."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Coming up short: The White Sox had runners on the corners with two outs in the eighth, and Leury Garcia facing reliever Alex Colome. Garcia hit the ball reasonably hard to center, but he also hit it right at Guillermo Heredia to end the inning and keep the White Sox trailing by one.

Video: SEA@CWS: Colome strands two runners in the 8th

SOUND SMART
Moncada increased his consecutive on-base streak to 13 games. He has 10 walks and 16 hits during that stretch, having reached base in every game but one during July after going 4-for-27 in his previous six games before the streak.

HE SAID IT
"It hasn't been the greatest season in the world for us, but at the end of the day, we are still grinding and competing. We gave ourselves a chance to win tonight and, unfortunately, we didn't get it done."--Shields, on his 21st start this season

UP NEXT
Dylan Covey (3-5, 5.69) is scheduled to make his 12th start of the season and second in his career vs. Seattle with a 9:10 p.m. CT first pitch at Safeco Field on Saturday. Felix Hernandez gets the start for the Mariners. Covey is 0-4 with an 11.70 ERA, six homers allowed, .349 opponents' batting average and 2.25 WHIP over his last five starts.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields