NEW YORK (AP) — Yu Darvish pitched eight masterful innings, Javier Báez homered and drove in three runs, and the Chicago Cubs topped the New York Mets 5-2 Tuesday night to take the opener of a pivotal three-game series in the National League wild-card race.
Báez and Addison Russell each hit a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman. Both middle infielders finished with three hits, and Báez had an eventful game all over the field.
The flashy shortstop made a tough grab to thwart a potential New York rally, contributed three extra-base hits and a walk on a perfect night at the plate — and was thrown out twice being overaggressive on the bases.
Pete Alonso hit his 42nd home run for the Mets, becoming the first rookie in 81 years to break his team’s season record. J.D. Davis also went deep, with two outs in the ninth against Brandon Kintzler.
New York dropped its fourth straight, all at home, and fell three games behind Chicago for the second NL wild card. Philadelphia began the night one game back of the Cubs, who trailed first-place St. Louis by three games in the NL Central.
Darvish (5-6) allowed five hits, struck out seven and issued one walk — his first in six starts since his last one on July 23. Todd Frazier drew a free pass on four pitches leading off the fifth, ending a streak of 142 batters without a walk for the Japanese right-hander.
Stroman (7-12) was handed a 1-0 lead but gave it right back when Russell connected in the fifth. Kris Bryant doubled to start the sixth and Báez hit an opposite-field homer to right.
After a strong start, Stroman yielded four runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander, who grew up on Long Island about 50 miles from Citi Field, is 1-1 in five starts with the Mets since arriving from Toronto in a trade. He exited his previous outing with hamstring tightness, but showed no ill effects.
Alonso homered on the first pitch from Darvish in the fourth, a no-doubt drive to the opposite field that soared far beyond the fence in right.
The big first baseman raised his right arm and index finger as he began rounding the bases, then flashed a bright smile in the dugout before coming out for a curtain call. He set the Mets mark with 31 games to spare.
Todd Hundley in 1996 and Carlos Beltran a decade later hit 41 homers for New York.
In July, Alonso won the All-Star Home Run Derby in Cleveland.
Johnny Rizzo was the previous major league rookie to claim sole possession of his club’s home run record when he hit 23 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1938. Rizzo’s franchise mark was matched by Hall of Famer and former Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner in 1946.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo sat out his second consecutive game after leaving Saturday’s loss to Washington with tightness in his back. Ian Happ started in Rizzo’s place again. Manager Joe Maddon and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein acknowledged Rizzo could miss the entire series. If he is able to return against the Mets, it would most likely be in Thursday’s finale, Epstein said. … All-Star catcher Willson Contreras (strained right hamstring) was set to catch Jon Lester’s side session and is getting closer to a return from the injured list, perhaps early next month.
Mets: OF Brandon Nimmo was scheduled to play nine innings in his latest rehab game for Triple-A Syracuse, and hopefully five innings Wednesday. Nimmo has been on the injured list since May 21 with a bulging disk in his neck. … 2B Robinson Canó (torn left hamstring) took batting practice and worked out on the field. He appears to be progressing ahead of schedule in his recovery. … Manager Mickey Callaway said reliever Edwin Díaz was going to throw off a mound before the game and that would determine if he was available. Díaz exited his outing Saturday night with tightness in his back and neck area.
Chicago placed pitcher Cole Hamels on the paternity list and recalled right-hander James Norwood from Triple-A Iowa. Hamels is still expected to make his next scheduled start Saturday.
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (9-9, 3.20 ERA) pitches Wednesday night against Noah Syndergaard (9-6, 3.71 ERA). Both threw shutout ball to win last time out. Hendricks is 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA in three career starts against the Mets, though he hasn’t faced them since July 2016. Syndergaard has posted a career-best eight consecutive quality starts.
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