• Summary: The Cubs scored six runs with two outs in the third inning to chase Mets starter John Maine, and Ted Lilly combined with two relievers to hold off New York as Chicago stayed within striking distance of the NL Cenral lead. It was the shortest start of Maine's season.
• Wasted effort: Moises Alou hit two homers for the Mets, his 31st career multihomer game. The left-fielder has four home runs this season.
• Stepping up: Cubs center fielder Jacque Jones went 3-for-4, including an RBI single in the third. Jones entered going 5-for-27 (.185) in his past seven games.
• Quotable: "You know you're playing for something when this many people are coming out and they want to see you perform." -- Lilly, on the Wrigley Field crowd
-- ESPN.com news services
Cubs 6, Mets 2
CHICAGO (AP) -- Ted Lilly certainly doesn't mind pitching in front of big crowds at Wrigley Field in the middle of a playoff chase.Ryan Theriot legged out an RBI-infield single with two outs that started a six-run third inning, and Lilly pitched into the eighth as the Chicago Cubs defeated the New York Mets 6-2 on Saturday.Jacque Jones had three hits for the Cubs, who have the National League's best record since June 3 at 36-20 and stayed a game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.Jacque Jones had three hits for the Cubs, who have the National
League's best record since June 3 at 36-20. The Cubs stayed within
a game of Milwaukee in the NL East, after the Brewers beat the
Phillies 6-5 Saturday night."This is really exciting," said Lilly. "The last three years that I was in Toronto we didn't really get an opportunity to get this kind of feeling. The pressure that's coming into it is fun. You know you're playing for something when this many people are coming out and they want to see you perform, and I think that's one of the things that you expect as a player."Moises Alou homered twice for the Mets, who snapped a three-game winning streak. They lead the Phillies by 5 games in the NL East.Lilly (12-5) bounced back from his first loss on Monday since June 5, allowing two runs and seven hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in 7 2/3 innings. He has won seven of his last eight starts.Alou homered off Lilly in the fourth and sixth. It was the 31st multihomer game for Alou, who has four home runs on the season.Mets starter John Maine (12-6), who retired the first six batters he faced, lost his rhythm in the third inning en route to his shortest start this season.With two outs and runners on second and third, Theriot hit a grounder to shortstop Jose Reyes. Reyes fielded the ball on the infield grass, but first base umpire Marty Foster ruled Reyes' throw was late to first, allowing Jason Kendall to score. Replays showed Reyes' throw just beat Theriot, but Mets manager Willie Randolph didn't contest the call."Why?" said Randolph. "It doesn't make (any difference). Would he change it? It's pretty obvious so I have nothing to say. I would have gotten thrown out of the game. What does that accomplish?"Even Theriot wasn't sure if he was safe."You know what? And this has been told to me about five times. There was probably 50 of them where I was safe and they called me out. So you know what, get one back," Theriot said.After a walk to Derrek Lee to load the bases, Maine missed high on a 3-2 pitch to Aramis Ramirez to walk in a run. Maine, who appeared to lose his focus, then plunked Cliff Floyd on a 2-2 pitch to bring another run to the plate.Mark DeRosa followed with a two-run single to left, giving the Cubs a 5-0 lead. Jones, the 10th batter of the inning, followed with a line-drive single that nearly hit DeRosa going from first to second. DeRosa hit the ground while avoiding the ball and Floyd ended up scoring to give the Cubs a 6-0 lead."You see good teams do that with two outs," Theriot said. "They come back and score a bunch of runs, whether it be hits or walks, whatever it may be, knowing you have that one out left and you still go out there and put runs on the board. It's always important."That ended the day for Maine, who lasted 2 2/3 innings and allowed six runs and four hits. He walked three with one strikeout. He was 6-1 in his last eight starts before Saturday."I couldn't find it and I kept pressing trying to find it. It just wasn't there. That was really the first time all year in a key situation where I hadn't been able to help myself and get out of it," said Maine.Right fielder Damion Easley made a leaping catch in the ivy on Ramirez's ball in the second inning. It appeared that he hit his head on the ivy-covered brick wall while making the catch, but Easley stayed in the game.
Mets C Paul Lo Duca missed his sixth consecutive game because of a sore hamstring. Although Lo Duca says he's healthy enough to play, Randolph wants to be careful with his starting catcher. "He's not ready," Randolph said. "No way am I going to put my number one catcher out there on the (fourth) of August with a possibility of me losing him for a month if he pops it again." Randolph said Lo Duca will take part in pregame drills on Tuesday before a decision is made on his return.