Starlin Castro legged out a run-scoring infield single in the 11th inning, and the Chicago Cubs blanked the punchless New York Mets 2-0 Wednesday night for their second consecutive shutout at Citi Field.
Jon Lester returned to form with seven sharp innings, and the Cubs overcame a major baserunning blunder to score twice in the 11th. Miguel Montero added an RBI single and Chicago won its eighth straight against the Mets, including the first six of seven meetings this season.
The staggering Mets botched a suicide squeeze in the eighth and a double-play ball in the 11th during their latest flop at the plate.
After neither team was able to score for 10 innings, Dexter Fowler drew a leadoff walk from Carlos Torres (2-4) in the 11th. Anthony Rizzo hit a grounder to shortstop, but second baseman Wilmer Flores made a low relay to first and Lucas Duda was unable to scoop the ball out of the dirt.
Kris Bryant singled and so did Chris Coghlan. But when Rizzo was held at third, Bryant got hung up after tearing around second and was easily tagged out.
Rizzo scored when Castro beat out a slow bouncer to third baseman Daniel Murphy. Montero, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, made it 2-0 with a single off Sean Gilmartin — all that prevented the Mets from losing 1-0 in consecutive home games for the second time since early May.
Jason Motte (6-1) fanned two in a hitless inning and Justin Grimm threw a called third strike past Kevin Plawecki with runners at the corners for his first major league save, bringing a final round of boos from the crowd of 23,906.
Lester and Bartolo Colon took advantage of the feeble lineups they were facing to shake off recent struggles. Both starters went seven innings — and Colon retired 14 straight following a leadoff double in the third.
With his own team slumping at the plate, colorful Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought in an illusionist from Las Vegas to entertain his team before Tuesday night's game. Chicago won 1-0 to stop a five-game slide, and counterpart Terry Collins was asked Wednesday about Maddon's magic touch.
"I brought in a witch doctor to clean out the clubhouse, get all the bad spirits out of there," Collins said, drawing laughs. "We need to send a magician down to St. Lucie where all the rehab guys are."
Aside from mixing potions, Collins tried almost any trick he could think up in a desperate effort to help the Mets push across a run.
He let Colon swing away with a runner on second and none out, then called for a suicide squeeze in the eighth with two men in scoring position. Pinch-hitter Darrell Ceciliani bunted right through the pitch, and Ruben Tejada was hung out to dry.
New York nearly had two runners tagged out on the play, but umpires kept Murphy at third base following a long huddle and discussion with Maddon. Ceciliani struck out against Pedro Strop to end the inning.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler (sprained left ankle) got a scheduled night off at Triple-A Iowa after going 0 for 7 in the first two games of his rehab assignment. ... 2B Addison Russell got some rest, something Maddon said he wants to do regularly with Russell and Bryant in the second half as the rookies adjust to the length of a 162-game major league season. Russell entered as a pinch-hitter in the 10th and stayed in the game.
Mets: LF Michael Cuddyer sat out with a sore left knee and might not play Thursday afternoon, either, Collins said. The slumping cleanup hitter had an MRI that revealed a slight strain and was given two shots (cortisone and a lubricant) to relieve the discomfort. But he said doctors told him it was the "best-case scenario" and he won't be sidelined more than a couple of days. "He is going to be OK," Collins said. "Finally some good news."
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (7-5, 2.94 ERA) tries to pitch the Cubs to a season sweep of the Mets on Thursday.
Mets: With All-Star selections set to be announced early next week, RHP Jacob deGrom (8-5, 2.15 ERA) looks to add to his impressive credentials. Last season's NL Rookie of the Year is 5-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his last eight outings. His 2.07 ERA in 30 starts since June 17, 2014, is the best mark in the majors during that span among pitchers with a minimum of 150 innings.