ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mike Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and Chicago manager Joe Maddon won his return to Tropicana Field as the streaking Cubs won their seventh straight, holding the Tampa Bay Rays to one hit in a 2-1 win on Tuesday night.
The Cubs (84-66) got a solo home run from Kyle Schwarber and an RBI double from Javier Baez and didn’t need much else, as Chicago pitchers limited the Rays (73-78) to Brad Miller’s solo home run in the sixth inning.
Maddon’s return and the Cubs’ first appearance at Tropicana Field since 2008 resulted in a crowd of 25,046, the stadium’s largest attendance total since Opening Day.
Montgomery left after six innings and 81 pitches, having struck out six against the organization he played for in the minors in 2013-14. He didn’t issue a walk Tuesday.
Relievers Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. each pitched a scoreless, hitless inning of relief, and Wade Davis fanned all three batters in the ninth for his 32nd save.
Chicago maintained a 3 1/2-game lead on the Brewers for the National League Central, with the two teams meeting for a four-game series in Milwaukee this weekend. The Rays are still mathematically alive among a long list of teams chasing the final American League wild card, entering the night five games behind the Minnesota Twins.
Montgomery bounced back nicely from his shortest start with the Cubs, when he lasted only two-plus innings on Sept. 9 while allowing four runs.
Rays starter Chris Archer (9-11) dropped to 0-4 in September despite a quality start, lasting six innings and allowing two runs on four hits while striking out six and walking one.
Montgomery hit Kevin Kiermaier to lead off the game, but Kiermaier was thrown out trying to steal third base. In the fourth, Steven Souza reached second on a throwing error by Addison Russell. Souza was stranded at third as Montgomery got Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison to ground out to end the inning.
The Cubs got a solo home run by Schwarber — his 28th — in the second inning, and added a run off Archer in the fifth on an RBI double by Baez, who had two of the Cubs’ six hits.
NOTES: Only eight current Cubs ever played a regular-season game on artificial turf before Tuesday. ... The Cubs are now 12-7 in interleague play, having won 11 of 12 after opening the year 1-6 against American League opponents. ... Including Wednesday’s game, the Rays will have faced eight left-handed starters in a span of 11 games. They had lost six in a row before beating Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez on Sunday. The Rays entered Tuesday’s game with the majors’ worst winning percentage against lefties, going 17-27 for a .386 win percentage. ... In the series finale Wednesday, Cubs LHP Jon Lester will oppose Rays LHP Blake Snell.