ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — James Shields helped ruin Carl Crawford’s return to Tropicana Field.

Shields pitched his American League-leading third shutout of the season, cooling Boston’s red-hot offense and helping the Tampa Bay Rays end the first-place Red Sox’s nine-game winning streak with a 4-0 victory Tuesday night.

“I know those guys over there, whenever the Red Sox are in town, they take it up a notch,” Crawford said. “I expected (Shields) to pitch one of his best games and he did.”

In addition to cutting into their deficit in the AL East standings, the third-place Rays ruined the homecoming for former teammate Crawford, who signed a $142 million, seven-year contract with Boston after helping Tampa Bay win the division two of the past three seasons.

Crawford went 0 for 3 with one strikeout against Shields (6-4), who allowed five hits, walked three and struck out five en route to his AL-leading fourth complete game. Crawford grounded out with the bases loaded and two outs in the first.

“Today I can’t lie … it didn’t feel like it was a normal game,” Crawford said. “It’s nice to put it behind me.”

While there was a mixture of cheers and boos from the announced crowd of 20,972 before Crawford’s first-inning at-bat, a good number of fans gave him a standing ovation.

“I didn’t look too much. I tried to focus on the game,” Crawford said. “To the people that cheered, I just say I appreciate it.”

Crawford was a four-time All-Star in nine seasons with the Rays. He was the longest-tenured player in the franchise’s relatively brief history and is the team’s career leader in batting average (.296), RBI (592), hits (1,480), doubles (215), triples (105), extra-base hits (424), runs scored (765) and stolen bases (409).

Justin Ruggiano homered off knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (3-2) in the fifth. Tampa Bay added an unearned run without getting a hit in the sixth, when Evan Longoria walked and eventually scored from third on catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s second passed ball of the inning. Casey Kotchman and John Jaso drove in runs charged to reliever Tommy Hottovy in the eighth.

“It was one of those nights where we got outpitched,” Wakefield said. “Ran into somebody that had his ‘A’ game and was able to keep our hitters off balance.”

Wakefield threw 119 pitches, his most in a game since Sept. 18, 2003, against Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox outscored the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays 83-36 during Boston’s winning streak. The Rays cooled them despite getting just four hits off Wakefield, who also walked five and struck out two in seven innings.

Rays Manager Joe Maddon played down Crawford’s return to Tropicana Field. After all, the Rays faced him during spring training as well as during a regular-season series at Fenway Park in April, when Tampa Bay beat the then-struggling Crawford and Red Sox twice to begin a recovery from its own slow start.

“Honestly, I hate to disappoint, but it’s really not that big of a deal to us. … I think more of what you’re going to see is for the fans,” Maddon said. “For us, we’ve moved on. We’ve got a bunch of guys that say ‘Rays’ on the front of their jerseys and that’s the group I’m concerned with.”

 

NOTES: Boston OF Jacoby Ellsbury has an 11-game hitting streak. … The Rays observed a moment of silence for longtime Tampa Tribune columnist and sports editor Tom McEwen, who died June 4 at 88. … Boston SS Jed Lowrie was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of a sore left shoulder. … Red Sox RHP Bobby Jenks (back tightness) threw at 90 feet on level ground. … Boston Manager Terry Francona said GM Theo Epstein plans to talk with LHP Andrew Miller today, the same day the pitcher can opt of his contract. Miller is pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket.