Rays let a ball drop, and then another game vs. Cubs

Tribune Content Agency

CHICAGO — The Rays did score a run and rap seven hits on Tuesday, so that was progress. But they came up short for a second straight game against a struggling Cubs team, falling, 2-1.

Shane McClanahan lost for the first time this season, but the decisive run wasn’t really his fault.

A routine-looking pop fly to shallow right field by Ian Happ leading off the sixth somehow fell untouched between second baseman Brandon Lowe and right fielder Josh Lowe, and became a leadoff double. Mike Tauchman delivered the go-ahead run with a two-out single.

The Rays’ majors-leading record dropped to 39-18 as they lost two straight for just the fifth time this season. They need a win in Wednesday’s series matinee to avoid their first three-game losing streak — and series sweep — of the season. The Cubs, who started the series with the worst record in the National League, improved to 24-30.

McClanahan went into Tuesday’s start with a shot at some history — a win would have made him the first Rays pitcher to start a season 9-0 (and the first American Leaguer since Dallas Keuchel in 2017), and would have matched Blake Snell’s nine-game winning streak for the franchise’s longest at any point in a season.

But after one pitch, McClanahan was behind.

Nico Hoerner lofted a 367-foot fly ball to left-center field, and it went over the wall. Per mlb.com data, that was a homer only at Wrigley Field, and none of the other 29 big league stadiums.

After losing 1-0 on Monday, the Rays ran their Chicago scoreless streak to 13 innings before breaking through in the fifth inning against veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks.

Francisco Mejia singled with one out, went to second on a two-out walk by Wander Franco and scored on Randy Arozarena’s single.

The Cubs went back ahead in the sixth, and ended McClanahan’s night in the process.

Miscommunication between Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe led to the costly misplay, as Happ’s fly ball to shallow right dropped in untouched between them for a double. McClanahan struck out Seiya Suzuki and got a ground out from Trey Mancini, though Happ moved to third. Tauchman slapped McClanahan’s next pitch to left to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

McClanahan worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out seven, but was done in as much as anything by his pitch count; he threw 98 (60 for strikes).

Reliever Trevor Kelley loaded the bases to start the eighth, but shortstop Wander Franco started a double play, and Jake Diekman got the final out.