PHOENIX -- There was only momentary concern after Royals starting pitcher James Shields felt a twinge in his neck while lunging for a bouncing single by the Athletics' Derek Norris in the fifth inning on Tuesday.
"I had one of those stingers -- I guess it's a football thing. That's what they were saying in the dugout," Shields said. "I kind of jumped this way [to his right] a little bit and it gave me a little stinger, but it went away right away."
He stayed in the game for one more hitter -- Eric Sogard doubled for the sixth hit against Shields -- driving in the fourth run. He went 4 2/3 innings in his third start.
"The first three innings felt really good, the direction to the plate was really good. I was putting the ball where I wanted to, and then in the fourth inning, I got a little bit tired there at the end and tried to do too much," Shields said. "I overthrew a couple of pitches and left the ball up. Those are things that obviously can't happen during the season but, for the most part, I felt good health-wise and I got my pitches in."
Shields came out before the fifth inning ended when his pitch count reached 59, one shy of his allotment for the afternoon.
"I had 50 pitches after four and they wanted me to go about 10 more," Shields said. "I felt really good. It was nice to ramp it up a little bit, get a little tired at the end, get the pitch count and get into shape."
Shields was tagged with the loss as the A's went on to a 6-3 victory.
"The first three innings he was really sharp," manager Ned Yost said. "He started laboring and started getting pitches up in the fourth -- the same thing in the fifth -- but the positive is he got to 59 pitches and got his work in. That develops arm strength so he can continue in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh innings like he did today."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.