Figueroa fans career-high 10, drives in 1 to help Mets past Cubs

CHICAGO -- Nelson Figueroa had command of all his pitches and that was too much for the Cubs hitters.

Figueroa struck out a career-high 10 and had an RBI single to lead the New York Mets to a 4-1 victory over Chicago on Sunday.

"We used all of them. I think that was one of the keys," Figueroa said. "They never could sit on one certain pitch, looking for a slider with two strikes. I was able to throw my fastball and move it around to different spot on the plate. Just really expanded the zone and taking advantage of some of their aggressive swings."

Figueroa (2-3) allowed one run on six hits in seven-plus strong innings and won his first start since April 27, 2008. Figueroa, who took Johan Santana's spot in the rotation, got Jake Fox swinging for the second out of the fourth inning for his ninth strikeout of the game.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel was impressed how Figueroa attacked the hitters.

"He is the epitome of getting secondary pitches over," Manuel said. "And it also looks like to me he's kind of a cerebral guy where he has a good memory out there as to what he did before to get a particular guy out and able to command his fastball enough to be able to attack them in different spots."

Mets leadoff hitter Angel Pagan had three hits against his former team as New York won just for the second time in nine games.

Brian Stokes pitched a perfect eighth inning and Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth for his 28th save in 33 opportunities.

The Cubs had a chance in the ninth against Rodriguez with Kosuke Fukudome on first. Right fielder Jeff Francoeur dropped Fox's short pop up, but second baseman Luis Castillo recovered the ball and forced out Fukudome at second.

Starter Carlos Zambrano (7-6) couldn't get through the fourth inning for the Cubs, who failed to complete a three-game sweep of the Mets. Zambrano hasn't won since July 22 at Philadelphia.

Zambrano allowed four runs and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings. It was his second poor outing since being activated from the disabled list with a sore back. In his first start back, Zambrano yielded a season-high eight runs in 4 1/3 innings of a 15-6 loss to Washington on Tuesday.

"I pitched OK today. I didn't make too many mistakes," Zambrano said. "It looked like they came ready to hit today. I made some good pitches to Pagan and [Luis] Castillo and they were able to get the head of the bat on the ball."

Trailing 1-0 in the third inning, Pagan walked and advanced to second on Castillo's single. Zambrano tried to pickoff Pagan at second, but his throw went into center field, moving Pagan to third and Castillo to second. Daniel Murphy and Francoeur followed with back-to-back RBI singles to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.

The Mets added to its lead off Zambrano in the fourth inning. After getting Fernando Tatis to fly out, Zambrano allowed five consecutive hits before being pulled by manager Lou Piniella and booed by the fans. After Brian Schneider singled, Anderson Hernandez followed with an RBI triple.

With the infield in, Figueroa helped himself out with a single to score Hernandez. Zambrano's outing ended after he gave up back-to-back singles to load the bases. Reliever Tom Gorzelanny limited the damage by getting Murphy to fly out and got Francoeur to hit into a fielder's choice.

Piniella is concern with Zambrano's mechanics.

"He is opening up his front shoulders. They're getting a good look at him, because they're not swinging and missing at all. That's usually a pretty good indication you're showing the ball to the hitter a little prematurely and you're giving the hitter a longer look," said Piniella.

Game notes
Mets manager Jerry Manuel will keep RHP Bobby Parnell in the starting rotation. Parnell allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Cubs on Saturday. "We'll wait. We'll wait awhile definitely We'll start him, obviously we don't have any other choices and I think his is important in his development, even though we're not only here to develop we're here to win games. So we have to be careful with that kind of mistake," said Manuel. On the season, Parnell is 3-7 with a 5.81 ERA. ... Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano, who had a cortisone shot on Sunday, missed his second straight game with a sore left knee. Piniella doesn't expect him back in the lineup until Tuesday.