Cubs 2, Mets 1, 10 innings
NEW YORK (AP)—The “Let’s Go Cubs!” chant began almost immediately after Derrek Lee singled to give Chicago the lead in the 10th inning.
The Cubs have a more loyal following than manager Dusty Baker imagined.
“I’ve never seen that here in New York,” Baker said. “Chicago people are everywhere. It’s always great to hear.”
Chicago gave its fans plenty to cheer about Friday night, rallying for a 2-1 victory over the Mets and increasing its lead over San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.
The Cubs won their fourth straight and 13th in 16 games, improving to 8-2 on a 12-game road trip. They are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Giants, who lost 3-2 to Los Angeles.
Chicago (87-66) moved more than 20 games over .500 for the first time since Oct. 1, 1989, when it finished 93-69.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” reliever Mike Remlinger said. “It seems like we come in here every day expecting to find a way to win.”
Mark Grudzielanek was walked by Braden Looper (2-4), pitching for the third straight night, to lead off the 10th. Grudzielanek advanced to second on Corey Patterson’s tapper in front of the plate—he failed twice at a sacrifice attempt—and scored on Lee’s single to center with one out.
The Cubs have won by a run in three of their past four games.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Lee said. “When you win one-run games like that, you’re playing pretty good baseball.”
Glendon Rusch held his former team to a run in six innings, and four Chicago relievers kept the Mets scoreless the rest of the way.
Aramis Ramirez tied the score 1-all and ended Kris Benson’s string of shutout innings at Shea Stadium at 21 over three starts with a leadoff homer in the seventh. Ramirez rounded the bases to an equal mixture of applause and boos from a crowd of 28, 196—including a large number of Cubs fans wearing the team’s road jersey.
“He should be able to make one mistake,” Mets manager Art Howe said of Benson.
The Cubs then loaded the bases with some help from the Mets outfielders. Moises Alou hit a drive that center fielder Gerald Williams couldn’t get a handle on while trying to make a catch on the warning track with his back to the plate. Alou was given a double and he advanced to third when Nomar Garciaparra’s shallow fly down the right-field line glanced off Victor Diaz’s glove for an error.
“In a 1-1 ballgame you have to keep them (from scoring),” Benson said. “It was a lot of fun to be in that situation.”
Piazza made two sparkling plays at first base, twice diving to snare hard grounders down the line. Maligned for his subpar play in his first season at the position, Piazza stopped Rusch in the third inning and Walker in the fifth.
“I got some help from Piazza there,” Benson said. “He kept me in the ballgame, keeping guys off base.”
The Mets scored in the first on back-to-back doubles by Diaz and Jason Phillips. Jeff Keppinger then singled to left but Phillips was thrown out trying to score when catcher Barrett caught Alou’s throw up the third-base line and dived back to apply the tag on Phillips, who slid headfirst.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes went 1-for-5 in his first game since going on the disabled list Aug. 13 with a stress fracture in his left leg.
“I feel good, nothing bothered me,” Reyes said.
Garciaparra played in his 1,000th game. … The Cubs’ game Oct. 2 against Atlanta was changed to 12:20 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Fox. … Mets SS Kaz Matsui struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. It was his first action since Aug. 8. … The Mets learned RHP Mike DeJean has a broken right leg. He was hit in the leg by a line drive on Aug. 19 and went on the DL Aug. 30, but an MRI and X-ray on Monday revealed the break. He should be ready for spring training.