Taillon keeps it close, Morel delivers the big hit as Cubs rally past Mets to open 4-game series in New York

NEW YORK (AP) — The Chicago Cubs didn’t get a hit for seven innings Monday night.

But Jameson Taillon kept the game close on the mound, then Christopher Morel delivered the big blow from the batter’s box.

Morel hit a two-run homer off Edwin Díaz to snap a ninth-inning tie, and the Cubs beat the New York Mets, 3-1, after being held hitless by Luis Severino into the eighth.

“It was just really cool to just see us, like, stay in it,” Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “Just an all-around good team performance. Sometimes you’ve got to win games like that.”

While Severino was mowing down the Cubs for seven innings, Taillon did the same to the Mets in his third start of the season. He needed just 78 pitches to get through 7 1/3, allowing a run on four hits with a walk and a strikeout and lowering his season ERA to 1.50 in the process.

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The Cubs evened their record at 2-2 on their seven-game road trip out East, with three more games in New York. They also moved ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers by a half-game for first place in the early National League Central standings.

The Cubs host the Brewers for a three-game series at Wrigley Field this weekend in Cubs manager Craig Counsell’s first matchup against his former club.

Cubs break through

On Monday night, Swanson singled off Severino with nobody out in the eighth for Chicago’s first hit, putting runners at first and second following a leadoff walk to Michael Busch.

With runners at the corners and one out, pinch-hitter Nick Madrigal hit a broken-bat grounder to third baseman Joey Wendle, who had just entered for defense. Wendle easily could have thrown out Busch at the plate, cutting off the tying run. Instead, the veteran infielder made an ill-advised decision to try for an inning-ending double play. Madrigal beat the relay to first, and the Cubs evened it at 1-1.

“Initially thought the ball was hit a little bit harder than it was. By that point, I had already set my feet and kind of committed to trying to turn a double play,” Wendle said. “That’s the decision I made, and unfortunately the wrong one.”

Taillon exited in the eighth after giving up a one-out single. Mark Leiter Jr., who got the win to improve to 1-1, got the final two outs to keep the game tied going into the ninth.

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The winning rally started when Mike Tauchman doubled off Díaz (0-1) with one out. With two outs, Morel drove a 3-1 fastball to left-center for his fourth home run.

“I’m always ready for the fastball,” Morel said through a translator. “It was a huge satisfaction, huge relief. Especially being able to do it in front of my teammates, being able to do it in front of my family.

“It was just an incredible moment.”

An excited Morel pointed toward his cheering section in the stands. With family in the Bronx, he said he had more than 40 friends and family members at the game.

“I feel like he loves the moment,” Taillon said, “the bright lights.”

So did Taillon on Monday, matching Severino pitch for pitch.

“It was fun going back and forth there,” Taillon said. “Quick innings.”

The bottom of the ninth was not without drama, either. But Héctor Neris worked around two walks for his fourth save. With two runners aboard, he struck out pinch-hitters DJ Stewart and Brett Baty to end a game that took just 2 hours, 5 minutes.

Brandon Nimmo hit his 13th career leadoff homer for the Mets, but Taillon shut them down after that in a fast-moving pitchers’ duel that zipped by at a breakneck pace.

“I was feeling good, even in the bullpen,” Severino said.

A two-out walk to Ian Happ in the fourth was Chicago’s only baserunner until Severino plunked Tauchman with a pitch leading off the seventh.

“He was so good,” Swanson said. “Especially throwing hard, but somehow his ball had even extra life, (rather) than just the velocity.”

Trainer’s room

Cubs: LHP Justin Steele (left hamstring strain) is expected to throw about 60-65 pitches Wednesday in a rehab start for Triple-A Iowa. It’s possible he could rejoin Chicago’s rotation after that, Counsell said. Steele has been on the injured list since leaving his opening-day start March 28. … RHP Kyle Hendricks (lower back strain) is trending toward a rehab start later this week, Counsell said.

Up next

Cubs RHP Javier Assad (2-0, 2.00 ERA) starts Tuesday night against LHP Sean Manaea (1-1, 3.33) in the second game of the four-game series.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m.

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