ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Back at Tropicana Field, Joe Maddon got to show off his Chicago Cubs.
Mike Montgomery took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber hit his 28th home run and the Cubs extended their winning streak to a season-high seven by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 Tuesday night.
Maddon managed the Rays from 2006-14, then left to manage Chicago and last year led the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. Chicago is closing in on its third straight postseason berth, holding a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.
Tampa Bay remained five games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card with 11 to play.
A crowd of 25,046, the largest at the Trop since opening day, gave Maddon a standing ovation after a scoreboard tribute in the middle of the first inning.
”I thought it was playoff-esque,” he said. ”It starts at home with all the interviews and things like that. Then coming down here, as soon as you walk in the door you’re greeting, which is good. I was able to go on the field before the game, got to visit with a lot of folks.”
Maddon led Tampa Bay into the playoffs four times, including the Rays’ only World Series appearance: a five-game loss to Philadelphia in 2008.
”I thought it was a quick nine years,” he said. ”I have nothing but warm and fuzzies about it.”
Montgomery (7-8) allowed one hit in six innings, a one-out homer in the sixth by Brad Miller. Montgomery struck out six and walked none after pitching just two innings in his previous start 10 days earlier.
”I felt a lot more fresh,” he said. ”I obviously don’t think too much about a no-hitter before games, but I’ve been in that position before so I know that feeling a little. Really it’s about executing pitches and relying on the defense.”
Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis each followed with an inning of perfect relief to complete the one-hitter. Davis struck out the side and remained perfect in 32 save chances.
Schwarber, 8 for 23 with four homers in his last seven games, went deep in the second off Chris Archer. Javier Baez drove in the other run with an RBI double in the fifth against Archer (9-11), who gave up four hits in six innings.
The Cubs’ streak is their longest since the 11 straight they won July 31-Aug. 12 last season.
”Their mental energy is probably at an all-season high right now and it’s fun to watch,” Maddon said.
Archer struck out six, raising his total to 241 – 11 shy of the team record he set two years ago. He was surprised at the amount of Cubs fans at the ballpark.
”I didn’t know that we had that many people from Chicago, Illinois, Midwest area in Tampa,” Archer said. ”It was just weird. Their players come and get announced and get so much love. It was strange. I’m not being critical. It was just crazy how much royal blue there was out there.”
ONE STADIUM LEFT
Swept in their only previous appearance at Tropicana Field nine years ago, the Cubs won at Tampa Bay for the first time. The only active ballpark in which they have not won is Yankee Stadium.
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (strained right hamstring) threw a bullpen session and said he might be able to pitch Thursday at Milwaukee. … 3B Kris Bryant was out of the lineup for the first time since Aug. 23.
Rays: SS Matt Duffy (Achilles surgery) will join the Instructional League team in Port Charlotte on Wednesday. … LHP Xavier Cedeno (left forearm tightness) will be added to the Rays’ active roster after pitching a scoreless inning for Durham in Tuesday night’s Triple-A championship game.
LHP Jon Lester (11-7) will pitch for the Cubs on Wednesday night against LHP Blake Snell (3-6). Lester, who lost to the Rays on July 4, has won three straight starts.
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