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Mets vs. Cubs Recap: Mets build big lead, avoid losing it

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Jon Niese ran into some trouble late in his start, but the Mets' bullpen bailed him out as the team beat the Cubs for the second time in as many nights.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets might not be a great team this year, but they have had no problem taking care of business against the worst of the worst of Major League Baseball lately. While the Cubs have a slew of highly-touted young position players, the team clearly isn’t competitive yet, and it looked that way as the Mets beat them again on Saturday night.

Jon Niese put up a couple of zeroes to start his night, and the Mets jumped out to an early lead against Dan Straily in the bottom of the second. Lucas Duda walked, and Travis d’Arnaud grounded into a force out at second but reached first safely as the Cubs attempted to turn two. Matt den Dekker singled, and Juan Lagares hit a fly ball that bounced over the fence in right-center field to score d’Arnaud and move den Dekker to third. And Wilmer Flores followed up with a hard single to left-center field to score both baserunners to give the Mets a three-run lead.

Niese cruised through the third and worked around a bit of trouble in the fourth, but he gave up his first run of the night on a leadoff home run off the bat of Welington Castillo. But he retired the next three batters he faced, which made the home run seem like a minor hiccup in an otherwise encouraging start. And after he tossed a perfect sixth, the Mets extended their lead.

After Daniel Murphy grounded out to start the inning, Straily hit the back of David Wright’s left shoulder with a pitch. Wright stayed in the game to run the bases but left shortly thereafter. Straily then walked Lucas Duda and gave up a single to d’Aranud to load the bases. Matt den Dekker drew a walk to plate the Mets’ fourth run of the evening, and Juan Lagares hit a fly ball to right-center field—not nearly as deep as his double earlier in the game—that Cubs center fielder Arismendy Alcantra got just a piece of with his glove but was unable to catch. Two runs came home on the error.

The Cubs opted to intentionally walk Flores to bring up Niese, who hit a ground ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The slugger decided to step on first base before throwing home, and den Dekker made a great slide to get around the tag at the plate and score. Curtis Granderson grounded out to end the inning, but the Mets’ 7-1 lead proved to be enough.

Niese gave up a solo home run to Justin Ruggiano to begin the seventh inning. He then gave up three straight singles before giving up a fourth on a ball that came back and hit his forearm. With that, the Cubs had cut the Mets’ lead to four and still had the bases loaded with nobody out.

Terry Collins called upon Vic Black, who managed to retire all three batters he faced—Chris Coghlan on a fly ball to left and Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo on pop-ups—without allowing any of the runners he inherited to score.

Things were much quieter from there, as the Mets didn’t score again, and Jeurys Familia and Buddy Carlyle pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively, without issue.

SB Nation GameThreads

* Amazin' Avenue GameThread
* Bleed Cubbie Blue GameThread

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