CHICAGO (AP) — Eduardo Escobar screamed hard on his chest in celebration, and then brought Pete Alonso in for a quick hug.
Quite a day for the New York Mets. A long, successful one at Wrigley Field.
Alonso was hit by a base-loaded pitch from Michael Givens in the 10th inning, and the Mets swept the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Saturday night with a doubleheader sweep.
Led by Alonso and Escobar, New York (58–34) extended their winning streak to four consecutive and went 24 games to .500 for the first time since 92–58 on September 19, 2006. It also increased his winning streak. The NL East is 2 1/2 games ahead of second-placed Atlanta.
“We fought really hard today,” Alonso said, “and the way we grinded through both games was awesome.”
The Despicable Cubs (34-57) have dropped nine in a row for their worst slide since they lost 10 straight in June. Givens (5-2) was charged for each loss in the double header.
Cubs manager David Ross said, “These guys keep trying every day, day and night doubleheaders against the first-place team with $300 million payroll, and these guys are fighting their (butt).” “So I’m really proud of that.”
Chicago’s Bess was ranked 10th in the nightcap, but Frank Schwindell leapt to third place Escobar to start a double at the end of the game. Alonso pumped his right hand after catching the ball for the first time, and reliever Yoan López (1-0) snapped into his glove in excitement.
“Those are the games that good teams win, regardless, and we think we have a good club,” said Mets manager Buck Showalter.
In the opener, Alonso hit a sacrificial fly in the 11th inning when Adam Otavino worked out of a difficult jam, helping the Mets to a 2–1 victory. Alonso scored on day three to get 77 RBI, breaking the tie with David Wright for the franchise record before the All-Star break.
In Game 2, the big first baseman was grazed on his left hand from Givens’ 0-2 pitch in the 10th, driving for a 3-2 lead in Brandon Nimmo. Another run was scored when reliever Daniel Norris made a throwing error in the second-place pickoff attempt.
The Cubs got a back in the lower back on an RBI single from Christopher Morell. But he blew a golden opportunity for more, a recurring theme during a difficult season.
New York ace Max Scherzer scored 11 runs in 6 1/3 innings in the second game in his 108th double-digit strikeout performance, placing Hall of Famer Pedro Martínez fourth in big league history. He allowed eight hits and had one walk, throwing 102 pitches, which matched his season high.
The biggest problem for the three-time Cy Young Award winner was old friend Yann Gomes, who caught Scherzer while the two played in Washington. Gomes scored an RBI double in the second and two against the Chicago right-hander in the run-scoring single in the fourth.
“Yeah, we’ll have a good conversation about it,” said a smiling Scherzer.
New York countered with Francisco Lindor’s run-scoring groundout in third and Escobar’s 11th homer in fourth, with a dropped laser against Drew Smiley blowing the wind at Wrigley.
Chicago had five hits in the opener, one more than New York. The Cubs had a chance to close it in 10th, but Otavino (4-2) retired three times in a row after being stolen in third place by pinch-runner Nelson Velázquez.
“You had to attack and try to do your best with it, and I was lucky to be out there,” Ottavino said.
Patrick Wisdom struck with a swing and PJ Higgins saw off the so-called third strike. Morrell then hit a grounder in third, and Escobar made a scratching stop and a one-hop throw that was first backhanded by a stretching JD Davis.
Davis entered the game when Dominic Smith sprained his right ankle while scrambling back to second as an automatic runner in 10th.
“It was one of those days when we didn’t score that many runs but played a great defense and the pitching did its job,” Davis said.
All-Star close-up Edwin Diaz took three outs for his 20th save.
New York were given another solid performance by Taijuan Walker, who played six innings of a four-hit ball. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last seven.
“I finally feel like I’m able to put everything together,” Walker said.
Cubs right-hander Marcus Strowman played 4 1/3 innings of a hit ball in his second start since coming off the injury list. He was sidelined by swelling of the right shoulder.
Strowman played for New York in 2019 and 2021 before signing with Chicago in December. He dismissed the importance of facing his former team.
“It’s the same mindset, it’s the mentality for me to go into every game,” he said.
Ross was dismissed by umpire Ramon de Jesus after the second innings. Each side had issues with De Jesus’ strike zone at various points.
Ross was also dropped from the series opener. Friday afternoon’s play was postponed due to rain, leading to a double-header.
The Cubs brought on left-hander Steven Broult from Triple-A Iowa. Right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. was sent down, and right-hander Matt Swarmer was named for the assignment.
In the second game, Brault played the ninth inning.
Right-hander Anderson Espinoza served as the 27th man for a doubleheader for the Cubs, and López was the 27th man for the Mets. Espinoza played 2 2/3 scoreless innings in the nightcap.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (stress response, right scapula) is slated to throw live BP Tuesday in Florida. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner played four innings of a one-run delivery on Thursday at the start of rehab for Triple-A Syracuse. … Smith had a slight swelling, and Showalter said he was going to take a picture of his injured ankle. “He played it very well,” Showalter said.
Mets left-hander David Peterson (5-2, 3.48 ERA) and Cubs right-hander Adrian Sampson (0-1, 3.33 ERA) take the mound for Sunday’s series finale.
From Jay Cohen https://twitter.com/jcohenap . can be contacted at
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