Marcus Stroman’s one-hit masterpiece leads Cubs past Rays 1-0

The veteran right-hander no-hit the Rays — the best-hitting team in the majors — for six innings in a command performance that halted the Cubs’ four-game losing streak.

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Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago Cubs

Cubs starter Marcus Stroman threw six no-hit innings against the Rays on Monday at Wrigley Field.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

With the Cubs on tilt after getting swept by the Reds and facing the daunting task of snapping out of it against the best team in baseball, manager David Ross put his faith in right-hander Marcus Stroman to get his team back on track.

‘‘This is a perfect day for Stro,’’ Ross said before the game Monday against the Rays. ‘‘He’s a guy we rely on. He’s the Opening Day starter. He’s the horse. He’s the guy, No. 1 on this staff. And he’s pitched like it all year. And I expect nothing less today.’’

Stroman lived up to those expectations and then some. He had a no-hitter through six innings and finished with a complete-game one-hitter in a 1-0 victory before a Memorial Day crowd of 38,163 fans at Wrigley Field.

It was just what Ross and the Cubs needed.

‘‘This guy, he’s a star that likes to shine bright,’’ Ross said. ‘‘And he does that on this stage, in this stadium, in front of those fans and in big-time moments. Just an electric performance from him.’’

Stroman (5-4, 2.59 ERA) has pitched at an All-Star level this season, but he took his game to another level in a precarious moment for the Cubs, who had been outscored 35-11 in a four-game losing streak entering the game.

‘‘This was special,’’ Stroman said. ‘‘This was an amazing moment for me. Truly just grateful and thankful for the fans.’’

Stroman also thanked everyone from his catcher and pitching coach to the clubhouse workers: Danny, V.J., Otis, Tim, Steven, Dakota, Matt, et al.

‘‘Going CG [complete game] at Wrigley, that’s like one of the top moments in my career,’’ he said. ‘‘The energy. When I walk out there 40 minutes before a game, there’s a massive cheering section already. The bleachers are usually filled, everyone’s ready to roll, so that gives me so much momentum and motivation. I’m very thankful for that home crowd. They’re the best fans in the game.’’

Wander Franco broke up Stroman’s no-hitter with a looping single to short left field leading off the seventh. Stroman allowed only two other baserunners. Luke Raley was hit by a pitch leading off the third, and Brandon Lowe walked after Franco’s single. Stroman struck out eight in a 105-pitch masterpiece.

‘‘That was fun,’’ catcher Tucker Barnhart said. ‘‘Those days, you just kind of know that as long as you’re putting him in the right spot, he’s gonna make the pitch. It was like playing a video game. He made it super-easy.’’

Still, the way the Cubs are running these days, Stroman’s dominance was hardly foolproof, with many fans surely fearing, if not anticipating, a dreadful conclusion. But Stroman rose above that.

The Cubs scratched out a run in the fourth, when Seiya Suzuki reached second on an infield hit and throwing error, advanced to third on a fly to center by Dansby Swanson and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mike Tauchman.

And Stroman made it stand up. The best defensive plays were his own: a nifty snag of Taylor Walls’ 102.3 mph shot up the middle in the second and an athletic grab of a wayward toss from first baseman Matt Mervis on Jose Siri’s bouncer leading off the ninth.

And with no room for error in a tight game against a team he struggled against in the American League, the no-hitter was secondary to Stroman. Actually, not even that.

‘‘I didn’t know I had it, to be honest with you,’’ Stroman said. ‘‘Wasn’t very conscious of it because of the hit batter, so I didn’t even put two and two together that that guy [Raley] didn’t get a hit.’’

Stroman was so good, it was his game to finish.

‘‘I didn’t even get anybody up,’’ Ross said. ‘‘The way we’ve been going . . . that was his game.’’

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