BOSTON -- Patriots' Day brought an unfamiliar late-morning start at Fenway Park, and clearly the hitters for both sides appeared to still be sleeping once the game began.
The Rays prevailed in the end, snapping a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over the Red Sox on Monday at Fenway Park.
Monday's game "just reinforced what I do know [about his team] -- that we don't quit," manager Joe Maddon said. "We came in today, you would have thought we had won three games in a row, and that's exactly what I want. We win hard for 30 minutes, we lose hard for 30 minutes, we move on to the next day. I think when you get caught up in negative momentum, that can really be obviously a bad situation that you're nurturing."
Normally, the number of Major League games beginning before noon in any given season can be counted on one hand. That's how rare Monday's 11:05 a.m. ET start was, which no doubt had to feel strange. Of course, for the Rays, adjusting to a different starting time has been one of the themes of their current road trip. Monday's game brought their fifth consecutive game in which they experienced a different starting time.
Tampa Bay's James Shields and Boston's Daniel Bard did not seem to be bothered in the least about taking the mound before noon. The right-handers matched zeroes through six innings, each of them appearing to be on cruise control.
"We had a pitchers' duel today," Shields said. "Bard threw great on their side. It was my job to stop the bleeding. We had a tough three games. They were hot. They were swinging the bats pretty well. It was my job to go in there and get it done."
Not until the seventh inning did either starting pitcher experience anything remotely feeling like trouble.
Sean Rodriguez drew a two-out walk. Desmond Jennings then singled to center and Carlos Pena walked on four pitches to load the bases and bring Evan Longoria to the plate. The Rays slugger watched the first three pitches arrive outside the strike zone.
"[Bard] had already thrown four [balls] in a row to Carlos," Maddon said. "And so it gets to 7-0 against Longo, and sometimes you would let him go, but I had the take sign on there at 7-0."
With Longoria's bat locked to his shoulder, Bard delivered ball four, forcing home Rodriguez for a 1-0 lead.
"I was going to take [anyway]," Longoria said. "I wasn't going to auto-take on 3-1, but I was definitely going to take on 3-0. I just had a sense that he was tired.
"I didn't even think he was going to leave him in for Carlos. I thought [Boston manager Bobby Valentine] was going to the lefty then, and then I was really surprised that he left him in for me. They had [Matt] Albers ready. It ends up being the difference in the game, so we'll take that and get out of here with the win."
Shields retired David Ortiz on a pop out to start the bottom of the seventh before Cody Ross worked a 10-pitch at-bat that culminated with a single to left, offering the appearance of a rally. But Tampa Bay's ace quieted the threat by striking out Ryan Sweeney on a called third strike and Molina threw out Ross on the play to end the inning.
"That was a pretty key point in the game," Shields said. "I think Sweeney's a pretty good hitter. He's got pretty good numbers against me in my career. To be able to do that was awesome."
Shields allowed just four hits and notched five strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings en route to his second win of the season.
"Shields didn't give us much to hit," Dustin Pedroia said. "He was on the corners, throwing all his pitches for strikes."
Tampa Bay took its 1-0 lead into the ninth with Shields looking to nail down his first complete game of the season. He retired Mike Aviles on a groundout, but when the righty walked Pedroia with his 115th pitch, Maddon called for closer Fernando Rodney.
Rodney entered the game with three saves, and he'd retired all 11 hitters he'd faced on the season. He fell behind 2-1 to Adrian Gonzalez, who eventually grounded out on a 3-2 pitch, which allowed Pedroia to advance to second. Maddon then elected to go against the book by having Rodney intentionally walk Ortiz, putting the potential winning run aboard.
The strategy paid off. Rodney struck out Ross looking to end the game.
So after losing the first three games of the series -- two of which came via lopsided margins -- the Rays managed to right the ship for at least a day, thanks in large part to Shields' work.
"That's what our job is to do, stop the bleeding," Shields said. "I thought our starters threw the ball a little better than their numbers showed [over the weekend]. [The Red Sox] were swinging the last few days, so you have to give their hitters credit. It's our job as starters to shut things down."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.