NEW YORK — – Taijuan Walker struck out a career-high 12, Pete Alonso drove in three runs and the surging New York Mets threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Walker (6-2) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, and he walked none for the third time. Walker had struck out 11 seven times previously, all before he had Tommy John surgery on April 25, 2018. After signing a $23 million, three-year contract with the Mets as a free agent, Walker has a 2.12 ERA, and the Mets are unbeaten in his six home starts.
Javier Báez put the Cubs ahead 2-0 in the third with his 15th home run, driving a sinker to the opposite field in right-center. Alonso hit a two-run single in the bottom half and a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Seth Lugo got six outs for his first save since returning on June 2 from elbow surgery, and the NL East-leading Mets (34-25) won for the fifth time in six games to move nine games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2019 season.
Chicago, which began the night tied with Milwaukee for the NL Central lead, lost its second straight to the Mets after winning seven in a row at Citi Field going back to 2018.
Sixteen consecutive batters made out before Willson Contreras’ single with one out in the ninth. Jake Marisnick pinch ran and Eric Sogard singled to center fielder Kevin Pillar. Cubs third base coach Willie Harris made the questionable decision to send Marisnick, who was easily tagged out on his headfirst slide by catcher James McCann following a quick relay by second baseman Luis Guillorme.
Lugo walked Jayson Heyward, then fanned rookie Sergio Alcántara for the Cubs’ season-high 15th strikeout.
Cubs star Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch in the first inning and left in the middle of the second with what the team said was a bruised right hand. Bryant initially stayed in the game after he was hit by a first-pitch 93.4 mph sinker, then went to run at first base.
He played third base for the second time since April 20 after also playing the hot corner on Saturday against St. Louis. The 29-year-old has been primarily in left field this season but also has played nine games at first base. In a 6-for-41 slide after a hot start, Bryant is batting .292 with 13 homers and 39 RBI.
Báez, who missed the prior two starts and five of the previous seven because of a thumb injury, appeared to aggravate a hip when he fouled off a pitch in the fifth.
Alec Mills (2-1) allowed three runs, five hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. Cubs pitchers walked six, raising their total to 14 in the first two games of the series.
New York tied the score in the third when Jonathan Villar walked, Dominic Smith doubled to left off the end of his bat and through the open hole in the shifted infield, and Alonso looped a slider into center for a two-run single.
Alonso added a sacrifice fly off Rex Brothers that scored Villar, who singled against Mills leading off the fifth.
Mets: 2B Jeff McNeil (strained left hamstring) was 1 for 4 with two strikeouts and played second base as he moved up to Triple-A Syracuse from High-A Brooklyn. … RHP Miguel Castro (neck) threw a partial bullpen.
Mets RHP Jacob DeGrom (6-2) takes a 22-inning scoreless streak and a 0.56 ERA, the lowest in major league history through 10 starts, into his outing Wednesday against the Cubs and RHP Robert Stock (0-3, 4.12 at Triple-A), who will be selected from Triple-A Iowa to make his first big league appearance since last September with Boston. DeGrom left his outing Friday against San Diego with right flexor tendinitis.
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