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Bullpen falters as Rays drop finale to Cubs

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CHICAGO — Pinch-hitter Jon Jay smacked a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth inning and rookie Ian Happ hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh to lift the Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the Rays on Wednesday at Wrigley Field and split the Interleague series. These two teams will meet again in St. Petersburg in September.

Evan Longoria drove in two runs and survived a tumble into the stands and Corey Dickerson hit an RBI double to give the Rays a 3-0 lead. But Jay tied the game with his third career pinch-hit home run and second blast of the year.

“It was a more complete game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We were down 3-0, but I felt good about it. It’s just that things weren’t going our way. That batted-ball-in-play statistic has to come back to us at some point. The ball’s been hit hard but at people. We’ve got to keep fighting through it.”

With the score knotted at 3 in the Cubs seventh, Erasmo Ramirez walked Kris Bryant and was lifted for Adam Kolarek. Anthony Rizzo greeted the lefty with an opposite-field single, and both runners advanced on Ben Zobrist‘s sacrifice bunt. Happ then hit a single to center — Maddon called it a “game-changer” — to drive in Bryant and Rizzo.

Rizzo added a two-run double with two outs in the eighth.

“Tough loss, obviously. 3-0 ballgame with, what was it — 12 outs to get?” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But it’s pretty telling. We gave up seven runs with nine outs to get. That’s generally not going to get you a win.”

Pedro Strop picked up the win in relief of starter John Lackey, who gave up three runs over six innings. The Cubs now are 2-6 in Interleague Play.

Rays starter Blake Snell scattered four hits and walked four over five scoreless innings.

“Definitely a step in the right direction,” Snell said. “Yeah, only going five, but I’m happy with how the team played behind me. I felt like they did a great job, and [catcher Jesus Sucre], I can’t say enough about him back there.”

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Longo in middle of action: Mallex Smith singled to lead off the game, then stole second and scored one out later on Longoria’s single. It was the 68th first-inning run off Cubs pitching this year (the Mets lead the National League with 71). Longoria also hustled to try and catch Rizzo’s popup in foul territory in the fifth and flipped over a low gate into the stands. He survived the dive. Longoria added a sacrifice fly in the sixth and now has 51 RBIs, the third Rays player to reach 50 before the All-Star break, joining Logan Morrison (57) and Steven Souza Jr. (55).

“I lost track a little bit of where it was just ’cause I didn’t want to take my eye off the ball,” Longoria said of his flip. “I tried to slow down as much as I could before I got there.”

“I was scared, I mean, yeah. Any time you go into a wall — that wall’s a weird height — so you get nervous a little bit obviously when you go over it. It didn’t feel great, but I’m OK.”

Jay thwarts Snell: Snell shut down the Cubs over five innings and was in line for his first win of the season when Ramirez took over in the sixth. Happ singled to lead off and one out later, moved up on Javier Baez‘s single. With two outs, Jay delivered his second homer of the season to tied the game at 3. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Jay’s homer. Maddon had debated using Tommy La Stella in that situation, but went with Jay because he’d been playing more.

“I wasn’t expecting a home run,” Maddon said. “That’s a two-strike homer, opposite gap. He gives you a good at-bat, no question.”

Jay even tipped his cap to the crowd of 39,855 at Wrigley FIeld for a curtain call.

“I try to do the same thing every time, just try to use the middle of the field and put the barrel on the ball and I was able to do that there,” Jay said.

QUOTABLE
“It’s a long season. Stay in your approach, stay at what you do. We’ve got a lot talent in the room, and hopefully it works out in the end.”
— Lackey, on what the Cubs need to do

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs posted their 10th win when trailing entering the sixth inning, tied for the most such wins in the Majors with the Red Sox and Astros.

INJURY UPDATE
Lackey was lifted after throwing 79 pitches over six innings. He’s been bothered by plantar fasciitis in his right foot but didn’t want to say how long he’d been dealing with that.

“I’m 38 years old,” Lackey said. “I’m bothered by a lot of things.”

His next start will be after the All-Star break.

“We want to make sure he has a real lengthy vacation right now,” Maddon said.

UNDER REVIEW
Smith was called safe after a double to left field despite a tag by Cubs second baseman Baez in the Rays’ sixth. The Cubs challenged the ruling and after a review, the call stood. Smith scored two batters later on Longoria’s sacrifice fly. The Rays’ leadoff man went 4-for-4.

With two outs in the Chicago eighth, Rizzo doubled and tried to advance to third but was thrown out. Maddon asked for a crew chief review, and the call was confirmed.

WHAT’S NEXT
Rays: The Rays will return home for a four-game set against the Red Sox — beginning at 7:10 p.m. ET on Thursday — before the teams head to the All-Star break. Righty Jake Faria (3-0, 2.23 ERA) will get the ball for the series opener. Each of his first five Major League outings have been quality starts.

Cubs: Mike Montgomery will make his third start at home on Thursday when the Cubs play host to the Brewers in a makeup game. The lefty is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts so far at Wrigley Field, including six shutout innings on June 20 against the Padres. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.

Source: Bullpen falters as Rays drop finale to Cubs by Carrie Muskat and Scott Chasen

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