Series: Game 3 of 3

NY Mets won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, September 24
Chi Cubs2Final
in 10
NY Mets1
Game 2: Saturday, September 25
Chi Cubs3Final
in 11
NY Mets4
Game 3: Sunday, September 26
Chi Cubs2Final
NY Mets3

Cubs 2

(87-68, 44-36 away)

Mets 3

(69-87, 37-41 home)

1:10 PM ET, September 26, 2004

Shea Stadium, Flushing, New York 

123456789 R H E
CHC 000200000 2 3 0
NYM 30000000 - 3 8 1

W: A. Leiter (10-8)

L: K. Wood (8-8)

S: B. Looper (28)

Mets surge to lead when Wood goes wild

NEW YORK (AP) -- Moises Alou measured his words, trying to control his anger. Eventually, the frustration spilled over and the Cubs' slugger let loose.

Alou was called out on strikes twice by plate umpire Bill Miller during a 3-2 loss Sunday to the lowly New York Mets, preventing Chicago from increasing its lead in the NL wild-card race.

Moises Alou

"The guy had a terrible strike zone," Alou said. "It was terrible, not even close. I think because I argue, they're after me. Is it a coincidence? I don't know, but I've got to do something about it. I got a letter that said if I get thrown out again, I'll get suspended. Maybe they know. Maybe they're baiting me. It's like guarding Shaq with five fouls."

Al Leiter struck out Alou with the bases loaded to end the fifth. Alou glared at the umpire, dropped his helmet at the plate and walked away.

"It was definitely a strike, I looked at the replay," Mets catcher Jason Phillips said. "It's where it crossed the plate, not where I catch it."

In the eighth, Miller called Alou out on strikes again, and he made a long, agonizingly slow walk back to the dugout.

"I'm not a guy to complain. But just make the right call. If they make the right call, it's tied and we'd still be playing right now," Alou said.

Maybe the Cubs should be more concerned about their offense. They managed only seven runs in 30 innings over the weekend, losing two of three games to the fourth-place Mets.

That could be costly. Chicago is only a half-game in front of San Francisco in the wild-card chase, with Houston and San Diego not far behind. The Giants lost 7-4 to Los Angeles.

The fifth-inning strikeout of Alou was the turning point for Leiter (10-8), who pitched two-hit ball for six innings to earn his first win in six weeks.

"For a team that's out of it, there's a responsibility to try and win the game against a potential playoff team," Leiter said. "There's a consequence to the other team. It feels good to play well against a playoff-caliber team."

The Mets gave him an early cushion, scoring three runs in the first by capitalizing on a wild stretch by Chicago starter Kerry Wood (8-8).

Leadoff batter Jose Reyes walked, stole second and scored on a single by Kaz Matsui. After a double play, rookies Craig Brazell and Victor Diaz, the heroes of the Mets' victory Saturday, both singled. Then Eric Valent and Jason Phillips were hit by pitches, forcing in one run, and a bases-loaded walk to Gerald Williams brought in another.

"Anytime you spot a team three runs, it's tough to come back," Wood said.

The Cubs' starter said it wasn't a matter of losing his location.

"I never had it to start with," he said. "Then I made some adjustments."

Wood settled down after the first inning.

"He couldn't find his rhythm at the start, but that was all they scored. He was awesome after that," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Wood allowed just four singles after the first. He struck out seven and walked three in seven innings.

The Cubs got two runs back in the fourth when Aramis Ramirez and Alou walked with one out. Nomar Garciaparra followed with a drive to left-center that bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double, scoring Ramirez. Sammy Sosa's RBI grounder brought Alou home.

Sosa, in a 5-for-41 slump, went 0-for-3 and finished 0-for-12 in the three-game series. He struck out four times and grounded into a double play Saturday, stranding eight runners -- five in scoring position.

Chicago loaded the bases in the fifth on a single by Neifi Perez, an error by first baseman Brazell and a walk to Ramirez. But Alou took a called third strike on Leiter's 98th pitch, ending the threat.

"That was a big call in the game," Baker said. "We didn't have a strong offensive game."

Leiter left after 110 pitches and won for the first time since beating Arizona 4-3 on Aug. 14. He was 0-4 in seven starts between victories. He walked five and struck out five.

Mike Stanton and Tyler Yates each pitched a scoreless inning. Braden Looper finished the three-hitter, working a perfect ninth for his 28th save in 33 chances.

Game notes

Reyes and Matsui were in the starting lineup together and batting 1-2 for the first time since Aug. 8. Reyes had been on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his leg, Matsui with a lower back strain. ... Reyes' first-inning steal was his 15th of the season. ... Stanton appeared in his 80th game, tying a Mets record set by Turk Wendell in 1999.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press