Jon Jay connected for his third career pinch-hit homer and Ian Happ hit a tiebreaking two-run single an inning later, helping the Chicago Cubs rally for a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
The Cubs appeared to be headed for their sixth loss in eight games before Jay drove a 1-2 pitch from Erasmo Ramirez (4-3) over the wall in left-center for a tying three-run shot with two out in the sixth inning. Jay then popped out of the dugout for a curtain call, obliging the crowd of 39,855 on a picturesque day at Wrigley Field.
Happ got his big hit in the seventh, driving in Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo with a bouncer up the middle against Tampa Bay’s drawn-in infield. Happ had two hits and is batting .357 (10 for 28) in his last seven games.
Tampa Bay (44-42) wasted a chance for a two-game sweep in its reunion with Joe Maddon, who managed the Rays for nine years before leaving after the 2014 season and taking over the Cubs.
Mallex Smith went 4 for 4 and scored three times for the Rays, who had won three of four. Blake Snell pitched five scoreless innings in his best outing of the year, working around four hits and four walks.
Smith doubled and scored on Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly in the sixth, giving Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead against John Lackey. But that was it for the Rays.
Pedro Strop (3-2) replaced Lackey and pitched a scoreless seventh for the win. Carl Edwards Jr. and Koji Uehara worked the eighth, and All-Star Wade Davis got three outs.
Uehara came in with two runners on and struck out Longoria for the final out of the eighth. Rizzo then made it 7-3 with a two-run double in the bottom half.
The Cubs (42-42) improved to 12-11 in their last 23 games. They have not been more than two games over or two games under .500 at any point since May 27.
Longoria tumbled over a door while trying to grab Rizzo’s foul popup in the fifth. Longoria got up and appeared to be just fine after his impromptu headstand.
WHEN SCHWARBER RETURNS
The Cubs are monitoring Kyle Schwarber‘s progress at Triple-A Iowa, and the outfielder could return to the majors soon. When he comes back, he might get another shot at the leadoff spot.
Schwarber was the leadoff hitter at the beginning of the year, but was pushed down in the lineup when he got off to a slow start. He was hitting .171 with a .295 on-base percentage in 64 games at the time of his demotion on June 22.
“I would not be concerned with putting him back there, just depending on what he looks like when he gets back,” manager Joe Maddon said.
2B Brad Miller (right groin strain) is expected to come off the disabled list this weekend. Miller is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham. “I’m sure he’s getting where he’s chomping at the bit,” manager Kevin Cash said. … OF Colby Rasmus (left hip tendinitis) is rehabbing, but Cash said there was nothing new with his recovery. “We’re just not getting the responses from the hip that we were hoping for,” he said. “It’s going to take some more time.”
Rays: RHP Jake Faria (3-0, 2.23 ERA) gets the ball for the opener of a four-game set against Boston on Thursday night. LHP Chris Sale (11-3, 2.61 ERA) pitches for the AL East-leading Red Sox.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.