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Chicago at Tampa Bay

Scoreboard
Chi. Cubs (45-27)002010001491
Tampa Bay (42-29) «10400000x570

Rays' offense, bullpen dig deep against Sweet Lou's Cubs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With every victory against contenders like the Chicago Cubs, the Tampa Bay Rays gain a little more confidence.

"It validates that we are a good team," manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday night after the surprising Rays held off the Cubs 5-4 for their second straight win over the club with baseball's best record.

"When you go through these situations where you're attempting to grow -- you think you're good and you think you're better, but you actually have to go out there and show it. It's not about coming up short or always saying, 'What if.' You actually have to do it. We need confidence to do that, and we gain confidence with games like this."

Andy Sonnanstine allowed three runs in five-plus innings and Tampa Bay's improved bullpen shut down the Cubs for the second night in a row to help the Rays clinch their ninth consecutive series at home.

B.J. Upton, Eric Hinske, Evan Longoria and Willy Aybar provided just enough offensive support, driving in runs off Carlos Zambrano during Tampa Bay's four-run third inning.

Zambrano (8-3) lost for just the second time in his last nine decisions. He allowed five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, departing after throwing 100 pitches. The Cubs later said he was lifted because of right shoulder discomfort.

The two-time NL All-Star will fly Thursday to Chicago, where he will see a doctor and have an MRI examination.

"At this point I don't know nothing. We'll see what happens tomorrow," Zambrano said, adding that his shoulder was feeling better. "Hopefully it's nothing bad."

Catcher Geovany Soto motioned for manager Lou Piniella to head out to the mound after Zambrano threw his last pitch.

"He threw a pitch funny. Like weird," Soto said. "I went out there. It was like, 'Are you alright? What's going on?' He said, 'Yeah, I'm fine.' I just had to call somebody because I didn't think it was alright."

Zambrano tried to make a case for staying in the game.

"He was convincing," said Piniella, who appeared to be ready to allow the pitcher to continue before changing his mind. "We did the right thing getting him out, obviously."

With 42 wins, the Rays have matched their club record for victories before the All-Star break. They were 42-45 at the break under Piniella in 2004 and wound up winning a franchise-best 70 games.

The Cubs scored twice in the third and once in the fifth off Sonnanstine (8-3), who allowed six hits and kept the Rays in front by only giving up one run after Chicago loaded the bases on a double and two walks with no out in the fifth.

Ryan Theriot, who drove in a run with a third-inning single, trimmed Tampa Bay's lead to 5-3 when he grounded into a force play at second. Sonnanstine avoided further damage when he struck out Derrek Lee and got Aramis Ramirez to fly out to strand runners at first and third.

The Rays' bullpen limited the Cubs to one run and three hits over the last 4 1/3 innings of Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory in the series opener. This time, J.P. Howell and Dan Wheeler held Chicago in check until Troy Percival closed it out in the ninth.

Percival earned his 17th save in 19 opportunities to tie Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers for ninth place on the career list with 341. He gave up a leadoff homer to Soto and walked Mark DeRosa to put the tying run on first before retiring the next three batters to end the game.

"We're a good team. Everybody knows we're a good team now," Percival said. "We're not sneaking up on anybody anymore."

Zambrano walked Akinori Iwamura leading off the first and third innings, and the right-hander paid for it both times.

Carl Crawford, back from serving a four-game suspension for his part in Tampa Bay's bench-clearing brawl at Boston on June 5, hit a liner that DeRosa tracked down in left field only to have the ball skip off his glove for a two-base error that allowed Iwamura to score all the way from first.

In the third, Crawford doubled after Iwamura walked, and Upton, Hinske and Longoria followed with RBI singles to put Tampa Bay up 4-2. One out later, Zambrano gave up a RBI single to Aybar to fall behind by three runs.

Kosuke Fukudome drove in Chicago's first run with an RBI double, then scored on Theriot's single for a 2-1 lead.

Notes

  • Fukudome batted leadoff for the first time. Piniella would like to keep the rookie there until LF Alfonso Soriano (broken left hand) returns from the disabled list.
  • Cubs OF Reed Johnson sat out with back stiffness after a first-base collision with Rays 1B Aybar during the ninth inning Tuesday night. Piniella said Johnson was available in an emergency.
  • Rays OF Rocco Baldelli (mitochondrial order) went 2-for-3 with a pair of solo homers in his second rehab start for Class A Vero Beach.
  • Cubs OF Jim Edmonds left the game in the fourth inning with left foot soreness.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Carlos Zambrano, who drops his second decision in his last nine, leaves with shoulder discomfort.  (AP)
Carlos Zambrano, who drops his second decision in his last nine, leaves with shoulder discomfort. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

A. Sonnanstine
IP 5.0
H 7
ER 3
BB 2
K 4
Chicago

G. Soto
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Chicago Cubs
Kosuke Fukudome, RF-CF4111111 .296
Ryan Theriot, SS4012001 .309
Derrek Lee, 1B4000023 .283
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010012 .295
Jim Edmonds, CF2000011 .231
    Matt Murton, LF2010000 .211
Geovany Soto, C4121002 .286
Mark DeRosa, LF-RF3000101 .296
Micah Hoffpauir, DH4220001 .387
Ronny Cedeno, 2B2010100 .283
   a- Mike Fontenot, PH1000001 .237
Totals3449435  
a-flied out for Cedeno in the 9th
Batting
2B - Kosuke Fukudome (15, Sonnanstine), Geovany Soto (20, Sonnanstine), Micah Hoffpauir (5, Sonnanstine)
HR - Geovany Soto (12, Percival)
RBI - Kosuke Fukudome (30), Ryan Theriot 2 (21), Geovany Soto (43)
2-OUT RBI - Kosuke Fukudome (10), Ryan Theriot (11)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Cedeno-Theriot-Lee, Cedeno-Theriot-Lee, Ramirez-Cedeno-Lee
E - Mark DeRosa (7, Dropped fly)
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (L,8-3) 6.2754420 3.13
Neal Cotts0000100 4.91
Michael Wuertz 1.1000120 2.56
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 98-54, Neal Cotts 4-0, Michael Wuertz 24-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 11-6, Michael Wuertz 1-0
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 30, Neal Cotts 1, Michael Wuertz 4
Tampa Bay Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 2B2200201 .271
Carl Crawford, LF3110100 .266
B.J. Upton, CF4111012 .293
Eric Hinske, RF3111101 .251
    Gabe Gross, RF0000000 .233
Evan Longoria, 3B4011022 .249
Cliff Floyd, DH3000102 .264
    Jonny Gomes, PR-DH0000000 .223
Willy Aybar, 1B4011001 .260
Dioner Navarro, C3010110 .326
Jason Bartlett, SS3010002 .254
Totals2957464  
Batting
2B - Carl Crawford (8, Zambrano)
RBI - B.J. Upton (39), Eric Hinske (36), Evan Longoria (34), Willy Aybar (7)
SB - Eric Hinske (6, 2nd base off Wuertz/Soto)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Longoria-Iwamura-Aybar, Iwamura-Aybar
Tampa Bay Rays
Andy Sonnanstine (W,8-3) 5733240 4.92
J.P. Howell (H,5) 2100000 3.15
Dan Wheeler (H,17) 1000000 1.93
Troy Percival (S,17) 1111111 2.84
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Sonnanstine 94-57, J.P. Howell 19-14, Dan Wheeler 11-7, Troy Percival 23-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Sonnanstine 7-3, J.P. Howell 4-1, Dan Wheeler 2-1
Batters Faced - Andy Sonnanstine 23, J.P. Howell 6, Dan Wheeler 3, Troy Percival 5
Game Information
Attendance - 31496
Game Time - 2:55
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Kerwin Danley, First Base - Laz Diaz, Second Base - Wally Bell, Third Base - Paul Schrieber