Johan Santana took the mound in his final start of the first half, hoping to avenge his first career loss to the Cubs that he suffered two weeks ago at Wrigley field. It ended up being one of Johan’s worst starts of the year, getting battered for double-digit hits and being chased by the fifth inning, forcing the Mets offense to play catch up virtually all night, with a ninth inning rally falling just short.
Mets Offensive Highlights:
After being behind following the lead off hitter in the top of the first, the Mets were able to come back and even things up with a Lucas Duda home run, his 12th of the year, tying Scott Hairston for the club lead. New York then took a brief lead thanks to Ronny Cedeno, who doubled to the left field wall, scoring Ruben Tejada, who reached base with a one-out walk. In the sixth inning, the Amazins were able to push across another run; Duda reached base after a fielders choice, then moved to third after Justin Turner‘s double to right field, his third hit of the game. Mike Nickeas flied to center to score Duda and put the third run on the board for the home team. New York once again tried to chip away in the eighth, as David Wright led off the inning with a double, and eventually scored on Turner’s fourth hit of the night, a line drive single to center. Jordany Valdespin hit a one-out solo homer, getting an exciting rally started. After that, Carlos Marmol nearly imploded, walking Tejada, Daniel Murphy, and Wright, in front of an Ike Davistwo-run single to bring the Mets within one, but Duda lined into a double play to end the ballgame.
Cubs Offensive Highlights:
Chicago was virtually in the driver’s seat from the moment Reed Johnson stepped in to lead off the game, as he launched a lead off homer off Santana. They were quiet until the fourth, as Jeff Baker get things started with a double, and moved to third following a Geovany Soto single. Joe Mather hit a sacrifice fly to tie up the score, then the Cubs took control of the game the next inning against the Mets ace. Johnson and Darwin Barney singled to lead off the inning, then Anthony Rizzo hit his fourth homer to right field to give Chicago the lead. Jeff Baker followed that with a one-out solo home run to push the lead to 6-2. Luis Valbuena capped the fifth inning scoring with an RBI single of his own to get in the act. In the eighth, both Johnson and Rizzo singled to each register four-hit games, and Alfonso Soriano drove in the eighth run of the night for the Cubs with an RBI single.
Travis Wood‘s scoreless inning streak ended in the second inning, but he did throw 6 strong innings, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits, 4 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Once again, the Mets proved their weakness against left-handed pitching, as they couldn’t get much going against the southpaw tonight. Dale Sveum called upon his two most reliable relievers, Shawn Camp and James Russell to hold the Mets right where they were. Marmol almost gave up what looked to be all but a sure win for the Cubs, but despite his best efforts, he didn’t blow the lead in the ninth.
Johan Santana struggling in his 4.1 innings pitched, giving up 13 hits and 7 earned runs on 6 strikeouts, while surrendering 3 long balls. The one encouraging part of the Mets pitching performance Friday night is that Ramon Ramirez threw 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up only 1 hit and 1 walk.
Justin Turner was the offensive star, as he compiled four hits and an RBI in the ballgame (third of his career), while the Cubs sported five hitters with multi-hit games, two of those being the four-hit games mentioned earlier. The 13 hits given up by Johan Santana tied his career high.
The Nationals also lost tonight, so the Mets stay 4.5 games behind Washington, with a 45-39 record.
Probable Pitchers Saturday:
Saturday afternoon’s game will be a match-up of pitchers who didn’t fare well when these teams last met in Chicago. Jeff Samardzija (6-7, 4.77 ERA) will be opposing Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.34 ERA) in the FOX game of the week. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10pm at Citi Field.