ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.
Here is what happened: ground ball to SS Adeiny Hechavarria to start a double play and a line drive to left to end the inning.
"It's easy for that inning to spiral a little bit, and he made some big pitches," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "Got a ground ball. Got him to hit to Hech, which is always smart to do, and quieted them the rest of the way."
Snell turned in another impressive outing Wednesday in the Rays' 8-1 victory over the Cubs in front of an announced 24,238 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays (74-78) won for just the fourth time in their past 12 games and pulled within four games of the second AL wild card. The loss snapped the Cubs' seven-game winning streak.
Snell allowed two hits and walked three in seven scoreless innings. He is 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA in his past six starts
"Good environment for him to pitch in," Cash said. "Hopefully that's something that he can build off of. Look forward to many seasons pitching in that type of environment because it was loud and, especially after last night, a tight ball game he needed to come pitch well against a very good team, and he did."
The Rays' bats came alive against LHP Jon Lester. In the first, Steven Souza Jr. snapped an 0-for-23 with his 30th homer of the year. Wilson Ramos had three hits, including a two-run single in the fifth that made it 6-0.
Numbers of the day
30 Home runs this season by Souza, who had 33 career homers entering this season.
7 Times since 1912 (when Baseball Reference is available) that the No. 9 hitter had the only hit in a game be a home run after the Rays' Brad Miller did it during Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Cubs.
LHP Xavier Cedeno (arm fatigue) will be activated from the 60-day disabled list for tonight's game in Baltimore. INF Danny Espinosa was outrighted off the 40-man roster to clear room for Cedeno. SS Matt Duffy (offseason heel surgery) is scheduled to join the instructional league team today. He expects to play in the first game Monday in Bradenton. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery) has completed his rehab and will begin his offseason today. Cash said Eovaldi put a "check next to every box" during his year rehabbing from his Aug. 19, 2016, surgery. The Rays want him to have a normal offseason so he is ready to compete for a rotation spot in spring training.
Al Lopez House benefit
The Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House, along with the Ybor City Museum Society, will host Homeruns & History, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, at Ybor City's Centennial Park. The event is free. Proceeds will benefit the Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House. Area MLB alumni Nardi Contreras, John Tamargo, Manuel Seoane, Jason Romano, Lenny Faedo and Jason Michaels will sign autographs from noon to 1. There will be a watch party at 7 p.m. at Coppertail Brewing for the Rays-Orioles game.
• Triple-A Durham manager Jared Sandberg will join the Rays in New York next week.
• Former Yankees CF Bernie Williams played an acoustic version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch to raise awareness for the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.