By MIKE FITZPATRICK AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Yoenis Cespedes socked a colossal home run, Jeurys Familia pitched out of a huge jam in the ninth inning and rookie replacement Brandon Nimmo keyed a three-run rally in the seventh that sent the New York Mets past the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Thursday night in their first meeting since last year’s NL Championship Series.
Chicago put runners on second and third with no outs against Familia, who got two strikeouts and a bases-loaded popup for his 27th save, most in the majors. He screamed and pumped his arms repeatedly after Javier Baez popped up to end it.
Baez’s throwing error at second base allowed Nimmo to score the go-ahead run, and the Mets overcame a 3-0 deficit to stop their four-game slide. New York, which swept Chicago last October to reach the World Series, had lost nine straight regular-season games to the Cubs dating to August 2014.
Both banged-up teams came in depleted by injuries as they began a four-game series, the start of an 11-game homestand for the Mets that marks their longest of the season and takes them all the way into the All-Star break.
Kris Bryant’s two-run homer and Baez’s solo shot off rookie Steven Matz gave the major league-best Cubs a 3-0 lead before a scuffling Mets lineup finally pushed back.
Cespedes launched a solo drive off John Lackey in the sixth that soared into the third deck in left field, two or three rows deep. It was thought to be the first home run to reach the third deck at Citi Field, which opened in 2009.
It wasn’t unfamiliar territory to Cespedes, however. He sent several shots up there three years ago _ while winning the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Travis d’Arnaud singled with one out in the seventh, chasing Lackey. Joel Peralta (0-1) walked slumping pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza before Nimmo, starting for injured outfielder Curtis Granderson, singled on the ninth pitch of a gritty at-bat for his first career RBI.
The throw to third allowed Nimmo to reach second, and the Mets had two runners in scoring position. With the Cubs playing their infield in, Neil Walker hit a chopper toward the middle against reliever Pedro Strop.
Figuring he had no play at the plate, Baez threw to third in an attempt to get Nimmo. But the wide throw ticked off Bryant’s glove and rolled into foul territory, letting Nimmo cross the plate with a big smile on his face.
Erik Goeddel (1-0) struck out two in 1 2/3 hitless innings for the win.
Cubs: RF Jason Heyward was rested against the left-hander with Chicago in the middle of playing 24 straight days. He has a little soreness on his left side but certainly could have started, manager Joe Maddon said. Heyward entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and shattered his bat on a grounder back to the mound against lefty Jerry Blevins, stranding two runners. Heyward is expected to play Friday night. … INF Tommy La Stella (strained right hamstring) went 1 for 4 in his third rehab game for Triple-A Iowa and is getting close to coming off the DL. RHP Adam Warren started that game for Iowa against Round Rock and threw 73 pitches over five innings, his second Triple-A tuneup as he gets stretched out in the minors to make a spot start for Chicago next Tuesday or Wednesday at home against Cincinnati.
Mets: Granderson was out of the lineup again after an MRI revealed a mild strain of his right calf, general manager Sandy Alderson said. Granderson was unavailable off the bench and is expected to miss at least a couple of games. A reinforcement could arrive Friday in Gold Glove outfielder Juan Lagares (sprained left thumb), nearly ready to come off the 15-day DL. Lagares was scheduled to play his third rehab game with Double-A Binghamton on Thursday night. … New York added a fresh arm to its bullpen by calling up RHP Seth Lugo from Triple-A Las Vegas. LHP Sean Gilmartin was optioned to the 51s. … INF Jose Reyes, also getting ready at Binghamton, is probably three to six days from joining the big league club, Alderson said.
Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58 ERA) starts Friday night against RHP Jacob deGrom (3-4, 2.67), who won Game 3 of the NLCS last year at Wrigley Field. The 2015 All-Star is 0-4 in 10 starts since beating San Francisco on April 30. Chicago has lost Hammel’s last four outings after going 9-2 in his first 11. He is 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA in five career starts against the Mets, but all those losses came before 2013.
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