Despite a strong outing by Zack Wheeler, the Mets lost to the Cubs by a score of 2-1 in the opening game of their three-game series in Chicago.
After Wheeler pitched into the seventh, the bullpen was unable to hold the lead, with Nate Schierholtz‘ eventually walking it off for the Cubs with a single off Scott Rice in the bottom of the ninth — his third hit of the game.
Matt den Dekker led off the first with a single before quickly stealing second base. With two on and one out after David Wright walked, Curtis Granderson hit a sac fly to center field to score the game’s first run.
Wheeler — who had six strikeouts in his first two innings during his last outing in Philadelphia — needed only nine pitches to retire the first three in order to begin his night.
On the mound for the Cubs was Jake Arrieta, who found himself in trouble in the second when he allowed a leadoff walk to Lucas Duda and a single to Monday night’s hero Wilmer Flores. After a sacrifice bunt by Wheeler, though, he was able to induce an inning-ending groundout to den Dekker.
New York had the bases loaded with none out in the third when Daniel Murphy singled, Wright walked for a second time, and Granderson singled. However, Chris Young grounded into a fielder’s choice and Duda followed with a popup. Flores then hit a hard liner back to the mound that allowed Arrieta to retire the side and exit unscathed.
For the fourth straight inning, the Mets had a leadoff baserunner after Travis d’Arnaud singled. Wheeler’s second sacrifice bunt of the night put d’Arnaud in scoring position, but the Mets could not come up with a big hit, leaving their seventh man of the night on base. Their lack of clutch hitting seemed to be the story of the game.
In the fifth, the Mets were able to chase Arietta out of the game after he threw over 100 pitches. He ended the night after 4.2 innings allowing one run on seven hits, all singles, and three walks. Brian Schlitter, in relief, entered with two on and two out to face Flores. Again, though, New York could not capitalize, as Flores struck out to end the inning to make hitters just 1-9 with runners in scoring position.
Meanwhile Wheeler pitched six strong innings of shutout ball, allowing just three baserunners: two hits — both to Schierholtz — and a walk with seven strikeouts. In the seventh, at 107 pitches, he was pulled after walking Luis Valbuena with two outs. Josh Edgin came in relief and struck out Schierholtz to protect the Mets’ 1-0 lead.
In the eighth, Edgin surrendered a game-tying solo home run to Chris Coghlan to deny Wheeler of a win. With a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, Rice entered and allowed a leadoff single to Rizzo, after which Wright mishandled an easy grounder to first and was unable to turn the double-play. Two batters later, Schierholtz hit the game-winning single to drive in Rizzo.
The Mets will continue their series against the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon in Chicago. Back to his role as a starting pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 2.45 ERA) will make his second start of the season against Edwin Jackson (3-5, 4.81 ERA) at 8:05 PM ET.