Game One Hundred Forty-Five – Cubs 5 Mets 4
WP – Kerry Wood (3-5, BS 6) LP – Bobby Parnell (3-6, BS 6) Save – Carlos Marmol (34)
The New York Mets gave Saturday’s game to the Chicago Cubs … and the Cubs nearly gave it right back. The Mets were charged with four errors that led to three unearned runs for the Cubs … and the Mets’ manager decided to pitch to Aramis Ramirez in the ninth with runners on second and third with two outs, the Mets up by a run and Tony Campana on deck.
The Cubs took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth. Randy Wells pitched seven innings of shutout ball and was extremely sharp again. Wells was less than effective in the eighth and after a leadoff walk and a double by Jose Reyes, Mike Quade brought in Kerry Wood with the Cubs up 3-1.
Kerry Wood was charged with his sixth blown save after the Mets scored three more in the eighth and took a 4-3 lead before Wood could get out of the inning … Cubs relievers have blown 22 save opportunities this season.
The Mets’ fourth error of the game put the tying run on to start the ninth. After Geovany Soto reached on David Wright’s miscue, Quade went to his bench for Bryan LaHair. LaHair doubled pinch runner Luis Montanez to third.
With two outs, runners on second and third, first base open and the Mets up by one, Terry Collins decided to let Bobby Parnell pitch to Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez (1-for-5 with two RBI) delivered a two-run single to right and put the Cubs up 5-4.
Randy Wells was very good on Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. Wells did a solid job of mixing his pitches and keeping the Mets off balance. Wells tossed seven innings of shutout ball before the Mets were able to rally in the eighth of Wells … and Kerry Wood. Wells allowed two runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts in seven-plus innings. Wells threw 93 pitches, 63 for strikes, and was inline for the victory.
Carlos Marmol was effective in the ninth and picked up his 34th save of the year.
Starlin Castro (2-for-5) recorded another multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Castro has now reached base in 23 straight games and is only 14 hits short of a 200-hit season (186).
Marlon Byrd (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI), Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a double), Geovany Soto (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) and Reed Johnson (1-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored) contributed to the Cubs’ 63rd victory of the year.
The Cubs offense continued struggling with runners in scoring position on Saturday. The Cubs pounded out nine hits but walked only once and finished the afternoon 3-for-12 with RISP and left eight on base.
With Saturday’s win, the Cubs improved to 63-82 on the season … 19 games below .500. The Cubs got on the board in the opening inning … with help from the Mets’ defense. Starlin Castro popped out to right (2-0 pitch) to start the first. Reed Johnson just missed a homer to left and had to settle for a double off the top of the 18-foot wall in left.
Aramis Ramirez popped out to first (first pitch) for the second out of the inning.
Jeff Baker lined a 1-1 pitch to Jose Reyes at short. Reyes appeared to lose the ball in the crowd, it went off his glove into left center and Johnson scored the first run of the game. Soriano struck out swinging to end the inning.
Randy Wells sat down the Mets in order in the first on just seven pitches, six for strikes, thanks to a tremendous defensive play by Starlin Castro. Reyes dribbled a ball past Ramirez in the hole at short. Castro barehanded the short-hop and threw a strike to Pena to nail Reyes.
Chris Capuano struck out Byrd and Pena to start the second … three straight strikeouts for the veteran lefty. Geovany Soto singled to center but was stranded at first when Wells struck out swinging to end the inning. Capuano struck out the side and four of five batters he faced.
The Mets did nothing against Wells in the second.
The Cubs went down in order, quickly, in the third.
After Nick Evans fouled out to Soto to start the home half of the third, Mike Nickeas ripped a single into left center … the Mets first hit of the game. Capuano could not get the bunt down and fouled out. Reyes grounded out to second (3-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Jeff Baker reached on the Mets’ second error of the game to start the fourth. David Wright made a nice diving stop on a smash ticketed for the left field corner … but his throw was low and Evans could not scoop. Soriano flied out to left center.
Marlon Byrd appeared to hit into an inning ending double play. Wright fielded the ball cleanly, threw to second to force Baker but Byrd beat the throw to first. Pena looked at strike three (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
Ruben Tejada tapped back to Wells on a 3-1 pitch to start the bottom of the fourth. Lucas Duda singled to center and advanced second on a single to left by David Wright. With runners on first and second with one out, Angel Pagan hit a grounder to first. Pena threw to second to force Wright … but Castro dropped the ball and could not return the throw.
On a 0-1 pitch to Jason Bay, Pagan took off for second and slid in safe just ahead of Soto’s throw. With runners on second and third with two down, Bay grounded out to the hole at short. Castro made a nice play and a very strong throw … but almost waited too long before making the long throw across the diamond.
The Cubs added a run in the fifth after Geovany Soto walked to start the inning. Wells bunted Soto to second and the Cubs’ catcher advanced to third on a bloop single to left by Starlin Castro (2-2 pitch). Reed Johnson hit a grounder to the hole that Reyes bobbled. The Mets third error of the game allowed Soto to score … 2-0 Cubs.
With runners on first and second with one out, Ramirez grounded out to short. Johnson was forced at second and disrupted Tejada’s throw to first with a hard slide. With runners on first and third with two down, Baker grounded out to second to end the inning.
Nick Evans led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to right center. Mike Nickeas hit a tailor made double play ball to short. Castro flipped to Baker but Baker’s throw to first sailed. Nickeas reached. Capuano tried to drop a bunt down again. After two unsuccessful tries, Capuano swung and missed at strike three. Reyes tapped back to Wells to end the inning.
At the end of five, the Cubs led 2-0 and Wells had thrown 68 pitches, 47 for strikes.
Marlon Byrd singled to right center with one out in the sixth … but that was all against Chris Capuano. Pena flied out to deep center and Soto struck out swinging to end the inning.
Ruben Tejada grounded out to short to start the home half of the sixth. Lucas Duda blooped a 0-2 pitch into left center for a double. David Wright grounded out to second, Duda advanced to third but was stranded when Pagan flied out to right (first pitch) to end the inning. Wells pitch count stood at 75, 54 for strikes, after six.
Randy Wells popped out to short to start the seventh. Starlin Castro ripped a 2-2 pitch into center for his second hit of the game. Johnson popped out to second and Castro was picked off with Ramirez at the plate to end the inning (0-1 count on Ramirez).
Ryota Igarashi started the eighth for Terry Collins with the Mets down 2-0. After Aramis Ramirez popped out to first and Tony Campana struck out swinging, Alfonso Soriano ripped a double into left center. Marlon Byrd followed with a double off the wall in left and the Cubs increased their lead to 3-0. Collins went to his pen and brought in Daniel Ray Herrera to face Carlos Pena … Pena struck out swinging to end the inning.
Randy Wells started the eighth with a 3-0 lead and promptly walked pinch-hitter Willie Harris … the first walk issued by Wells and only the second leadoff runner Wells allowed to reach all afternoon.
Wells struggled with his command against Jose Reyes. The Mets’ shortstop worked a full count before lining a double into right center. Harris scored with the Mets first run. Quade went to his pen and brought in Kerry Wood with the Cubs up 3-1.
Wood had trouble throwing quality strikes and was simply off on Saturday. Ruben Tejada blooped a singled into center. Reyes held at third with no outs. Wood struck out Lucas Duda swinging but could not retire David Wright.
Wright blooped a 2-2 pitch into right center. Reyes trotted home with the Mets’ second run. Tejada ended up at third with one down.
Angel Pagan expanded his strike zone on a 2-2 pitch and struck out swinging.
With Jason Bay at the plate, Wright stole second without a throw. Bay pulled a 1-2 pitch into left, both Tejada and Wright scored … and just like that the Mets took a 4-3 lead. Wood picked off Bay at first to end the inning.
Geovany Soto led off the ninth against Bobby Parnell and hit a 2-1 pitch to Wright at third. Wright backed up and let the ball play him. Wright ended up bobbling the ball and Soto reached on the Mets’ fourth error of the game. Luis Montanez ran for Soto and advanced to second on a double to left by Bryan LaHair. LaHair pinch hit for Wood and went with the 2-2 offering. LaHair drove the ball to the opposite field and Quade sent Tyler Colvin into run for him.
With runners on second and third with no outs and his team down by one, Starlin Castro tried to go to right field with a 0-1 pitch. Castro hit the ball sharply but right back to Parnell. Both runners held as Castro was thrown out at first. Johnson struck out swinging for the second out.
Aramis Ramirez stepped to the plate with everyone, but Terry Collins, thinking Ramirez would be walked to load the bases for Tony Campana. Collins decided to let Parnell pitch to Ramirez … and it cost the Mets.
Ramirez drove a 1-0 pitch into right. Montanez and Colvin scored, 5-4 Cubs and Ramirez advanced to second on the throw. Tony Campana grounded out to third to end the inning.
Carlos Marmol issued a one-out walk to Jason Pridie but that was it in the ninth. Marmol struck out two of the four batters he faced and retired Jose Reyes on a liner off Carlos Pena’s glove that bounced to D.J. LeMahieu, who threw back to Pena to end the game.
It is always a good day when the Cubs beat the Mets.
Matt Garza is slated to face Miguel Batista in the finale on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.