Three-run seventh lifts Rays to series win over Cubs

Yandy Diaz’s RBI single capped a three-run, seventh-inning rally as the Tampa Bay Rays pushed past the Chicago Cubs for a 3-2 win on Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Trailing 2-0, the Rays rallied in the seventh against Mark Leiter Jr. (2-4) after Cubs starter Justin Steele was removed.

Pinch hitters Josh Lowe (single) and Ben Rortvedt (groundout) tied the game with RBIs before Diaz slashed a single to center to send home Lowe for a 3-2 lead.

Diaz and Brandon Lowe had two hits apiece for the Rays, who won two games in the three-game series.

Tampa Bay finished 2-5 on its seven-game homestand and is 12-5 in interleague play.

Rays right-hander Taj Bradley (2-4) tied his career high by working seven innings. He yielded two runs, both unearned, on three hits and two walks while matching his career best with 11 strikeouts.

Pete Fairbanks turned in a scoreless ninth inning for his ninth save in 10 chances.

Steele was brilliant over his six scoreless innings. The left-hander allowed three hits and a walk while fanning five.

The Cubs produced just three hits, all singles, and Yan Gomes had an RBI.

Chicago broke through in the top of the fifth by using some small ball.

Following singles by Michael Busch and Nico Hoerner to open the frame, Patrick Wisdom dropped down a sacrifice bunt to put both in scoring position. Surprisingly, Pete Crow-Armstrong put down a squeeze bunt, and Tampa Bay catcher Jackson dropped the throw from third baseman Isaac Paredes for an error and a 1-0 lead.

The small ball didn’t stop there.

Gomes executed a perfect squeeze play by topping a ball out front of home plate, sending Hoerner across for a 2-0 lead. It was the Cubs’ third consecutive productive bunt.

In the ninth, after Fairbanks walked Busch with one out, Hoerner rocked a one-hop smash that shortstop Taylor Walls gloved while diving near second base.

Walls then flipped the ball to second baseman Brandon Lowe with his glove to start a dramatic, game-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

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