CHICAGO (AP) — As soon as he stepped on the mound, Jake Odorizzi went on the attack. And nobody could stop him.
Odorizzi struck out nine in six scoreless innings and combined with two relievers on a five-hitter to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
"The first at-bat itself I felt like I was throwing it where I wanted to, and once it carries over to the next batter you kind of know you have that going today," he said.
Evan Longoria drove in a run and scored two. Yunel Escobar added two hits and three RBIs. Ben Zobrist had two hits and scored twice for the Rays, who improved to a major league-best 15-6 since July 12. They will try to complete the three-game sweep on Sunday.
"If we keep the nose down and keep playing well, you're going to look up at some point and all of a sudden people are going to say, 'Hey, you're getting pretty close,'" manager Joe Maddon said.
Odorizzi (8-9) gave up three hits and didn't walk anyone. The right-hander came within two strikeouts of his career high after getting hit hard in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Chicago starter Edwin Jackson (6-12) allowed four runs — three earned — and five hits in six innings. He is 1-5 in his past nine starts.
Cubs prized prospect Javier Baez doubled but had a tough day overall, going 1 for 4 and committing his first error. He had three strikeouts after whiffing four times Friday in his Wrigley Field debut.
The second baseman's error came when he dropped a throw from Luis Valbuena after the third baseman made a diving stop on a ball hit by Longoria with a runner on first in the sixth inning.
Jackson then walked Matt Joyce to load the bases, and Escobar made it 4-0 with a two-run single.
The Rays also scored two in the fourth when Longoria doubled in a run and came around on Escobar's base hit.
Kirby Yates pitched two perfect innings, striking out three. Jake McGee then gave up two hits but struck out three in a scoreless ninth.
The Rays took a 2-0 lead in a fourth inning that featured some unusual plays.