CHICAGO -- To quote the late, legendary Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray: “Holy Cow!”
With a 7-4 loss on Thursday night, the Mets were swept in a three-game series at Wrigley Field for the first time in a decade. The Cubs, who sport the worst record in the National League, had not previously won three straight games this season, much less swept a series.
Vic Black surrendered a tiebreaking solo homer to Anthony Rizzo in the seventh. The shot came a half-inning after Andrew Brown’s two-run homer in the top half, in his first major league game since April 20, had evened the score at 4.
Within six outs in the series opener of moving to .500, the Mets now are 28-32.Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Brown's two-run homer in the seventh pulled the Mets even at 4, but the Cubs retook the lead in the bottom half.
Rookie Jacob deGrom remained winless, but the outcome was not primarily his fault. He did not receive help from his fielders in a three-run second by the Cubs. And the Mets again struggled with runners in scoring position.
Earlier, the Mets left the bases loaded in the fourth when Travis d’Arnaud flied out to center. They left two in scoring position the following inning when Cubs starter Travis Wood struck out Eric Campbell.
No defense: DeGrom’s streak of quality starts to begin his career ended at four games. The rookie, now winless in five major league starts, did not get much help in a three-run second inning.
Chris Young, who has shown little ability to play center field this season, had Luis Valbuena’s sinking liner glance off his glove in left-center for what was ruled a leadoff double. After a walk to Nate Schierholtz, the combination of Ruben Tejada at shortstop and Wilmer Flores at second base then was too slow to turn a double play on Darwin Barney. So the Cubs had first and third, one out in a frame deGrom rightfully should have already escaped unscathed.
No. 8 hitter Eli Whiteside then sent a fly ball to left field. Brown made a strong throw to the plate on Valbuena’s tag attempt, and plate umpire Clint Fagan ruled Valbuena out. However, a replay challenge by Cubs manager Rick Renteria showed Valbuena had placed his left hand on the plate ahead of the tag from d’Arnaud. With the run counted and the inning prolonged, opposing pitcher Travis Wood slugged his eighth career homer, a two-run shot that gave Chicago a 3-0 lead.
It was the second long ball surrendered to a pitcher this season by the Mets. Bartolo Colon served up a long ball to Washington’s Gio Gonzalez in the second game of the season. Wood homered against Dillon Gee last season at Wrigley Field.
DeGrom’s line: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. He threw 90 pitches (59 strikes). DeGrom’s ERA climbed to 3.19.
Working on off-day: Daniel Murphy, given a start off for the first time since his season-opening paternity leave, was inserted as a pinch-hitter with runners on the corners and one out in the sixth with the Mets trailing, 4-1. Brian Schlitter stuck out Murphy, but then surrendered a two-out bloop single to center field by Young that pulled the Mets within 4-2.
What’s next: The Mets jet to San Francisco for a serious challenge: facing Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum. The Giants own an MLB-best 39-21 record. Jonathon Niese (3-3, 2.69 ERA) opposes right-hander Matt Cain (1-3, 3.66) in the 10:15 p.m. ET opener Friday at AT&T Park.