CHICAGO — Finally, everything came together for James Shields.
The beleaguered right-hander pitched six effective innings for his first win in two months, Justin Morneau and Carlos Sanchez each hit a two-run homer and the Chicago White Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-1 on Monday night.
Shields (6-18) allowed one run and seven hits, using six strikeouts to help wriggle out of several jams and lift Chicago win its third straight.
The right-hander hadn’t won since July 26, when he pitched scoreless ball into the eighth against the crosstown Cubs. Shields was 0-6 in his previous 10 starts and is 4-11 since a trade to Chicago from San Diego.
In this one, Shields had solid command and reached back to make some big pitches in tight spots. He was backed by four double plays and ample offense as the White Sox pulled away.
“I got ahead of hitters and I was throwing some real good pitches actually that they were just spitting on, working the count,” said Shields, who threw 108 pitches. “They got my pitch count up early, but I ended up grinding it out.”
Ending the drought felt good, too.
“I had a few chances my last few starts to get some wins, but sometimes those things happen,” Shields said. “I’m just trying to finish the season strong right now.”
Morneau and Omar Narvaez each had two hits. Jose Abreu had two hits and an RBI.
Tampa Bay’s Drew Smyly (7-12) allowed three runs and seven hits over five innings in losing for the first time since July 18 at Colorado.
“I felt that I pitched better than the box score,” Smyly said.
The Rays couldn’t cash in against Shields, and then four Chicago relievers combined for three scoreless innings as Tampa Bay left 10 on base.
“Just a frustrating game on all fronts,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We have some opportunities that we didn’t make the most of, for sure.
“(Shields) mixed (pitches) really well. It’s just kind of unfortunate that he put it together against us tonight.”
Curt Casali drove in the lone run off Shields with a single in the fourth. Jaff Decker had three hits for Tampa Bay, which has dropped four straight and seven of eight.
The White Sox bullpen pitched scoreless ball thanks in part to Abreu throwing out Mikie Mahtook at the plate in the eighth.
Shields began his career with Tampa Bay in 2006 and pitched seven seasons with the Rays. He’s 4-11 with the White Sox, who acquired him from San Diego on June 4.
Morneau homered in the seventh and Sanchez connected in the eighth.
The Rays struck out only six times Monday after becoming just the fifth big league team to strike out 23 or more times in a game in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Boston on Sunday.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, a backup catcher over eight seasons with five teams, was asked if he thought of picking up a bat himself. He quipped, “I would have fit right in.”
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier sat out after being hit by a pitch on the left wrist in the second inning of Sunday’s game and leaving. X-rays were negative, and Cash said he was just “giving Kiermaier a day.”
White Sox: OF Adam Eaton missed his third game after crashing into a padded outfield wall in Cleveland on Friday night. Eaton said “the biggest thing was the hip.” There’s no timetable for his return. … IF Tyler Saladino (back discomfort) sat out his fourth straight game.
Tampa Bay RHP Alex Cobb (1-1, 6.16) faces White Sox ace lefty Chris Sale (16-9, 3.19) on Tuesday night. Sale will try to match his career high of 17 wins set in 2012, but he’s just 2-7 since peaking at 14-2 after beating Houston on July 2.