|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, September 19, 2017
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida Attendance: 25,046
Montgomery gem lifts Cubs over Rays
(TSX / STATS) -- ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The crowd was decidedly royal blue in the Chicago Cubs' first game at Tropicana Field since 2008, and the game was much the same way.
Mike Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and the Cubs won their seventh straight, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Four Cubs pitchers combined for a one-hitter as Joe Maddon returned to face the team he managed for nine years.
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 the Rays (73-78) were limited to Brad Miller's solo home run in the sixth inning.
"That's the best I've seen him since he's been here," Maddon said of Montgomery. "Because of the command, hitting his spots, throwing strikes ... Overall he was outstanding."
Maddon's return and the Cubs' first appearance at Tropicana Field in nine years 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.
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.
"It was a hectic day," said Maddon, who got a video tribute from the Rays, showing his clubhouse antics, including a python and penguins. "You forget all the goofy stuff you did, but you see how much fun everybody had. ... It's very nice. None actually as a player, primarily as a zookeeper. I appreciate it."
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.
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. He was surprised and disappointed by the decidedly Cubs crowd.
"It wasn't enough. We lost. It stinks, and having 25,000 Cub fans here wasn't very fun either," Archer said. "It's weird. I didn't know we had that many people from Chicago, Illinois, Midwest area, but I guess we do. It was just weird for their players to ... get so much love. It was strange. It felt like we were at Citi Field playing the Yankees. Honestly, it felt very similar to that."
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.
"Willson Contreras went out to warm up the pitchers and had a standing O," Archer said. "I've been here for however long and seen some really good players come, and I've never seen anybody get as much love when they ran out of the dugout to warm up than some of their players. It was kind of crazy."
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, and they are now 17-28 (.378) vs. southpaws. ... In the series finale Wednesday, Cubs LHP Jon Lester will oppose Rays LHP Blake Snell.
Updated September 19, 2017