NEW YORK (AP) — Jose Quintana pitched six shutout innings, Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer and the Chicago Cubs beat the banged-up New York Mets 5-1 on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Zobrist also doubled and singled in the leadoff spot as the Cubs won for the fourth time in five games. Chicago improved to 2-8 at Citi Field since the 2015 NL Championship Series.
An inconsistent Quintana (6-4) continued his run of strong starts following poor ones. The left-hander allowed three hits and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third when he threw a called third strike past Jose Bautista and retired cleanup man Michael Conforto on a grounder.
Quintana struck out six and walked two on a foggy, misty night in Queens. Brandon Morrow, the fourth Chicago reliever, needed only two pitches to earn his 13th save. With two runners aboard, he retired Amed Rosario on a grounder to finish the four-hitter.
Brandon Nimmo hit his career-high sixth home run in the eighth for the Mets, off Brian Duensing.
New York got four scoreless innings from Seth Lugo in his first start of the season. Lugo, who made his first 20 appearances out of the bullpen this year, pitched in place of injured Noah Syndergaard.
The Mets have lost eight of 11 since a four-game winning streak.
Zobrist went deep against Hansel Robles (2-2) with two outs in the fifth. Chicago caught a break earlier in the inning when a foul popup dropped outside third base because the Mets’ infield was shifted to the right side.
Javier Baez doubled with two outs in the sixth and scored on Kyle Schwarber’s single. Zobrist’s double in the seventh set up Jason Heyward’s RBI groundout. Willson Contreras added a sacrifice fly in the ninth — just before Baez drew his first unintentional walk in 183 plate appearances.
TALK IT OVER
Cubs manager Joe Maddon received a pregame visit from Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre, and the two chatted about Anthony Rizzo’s slide that upended Pittsburgh catcher Elias Diaz at home plate Monday, breaking up a potential double play. The play angered the Pirates, and Torre informed both teams Tuesday that Rizzo should have been called for interference — but Maddon still disagreed. “Nothing new. We just talked about what had transpired,” Maddon said. “Rearview mirror kind of stuff, and it’s time to move on. ... He encourages me to continue to say what I think, which I really appreciate.”
One day after a display case caught fire in a main entrance to Citi Field, leaking water poured out of the ceiling during Mets manager Mickey Callaway’s pregame news conference in the interview room. The fire that broke out in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda while the team was out of town Wednesday was extinguished by the automatic sprinkler system before the fire department arrived. Nobody was hurt and there was minimal damage, the Mets said.
Marysol Castro made her debut as Mets public address announcer, becoming the first woman to hold the job. Castro and Colin Cosell, who will work his first game Saturday, were hired to replace Alex Anthony and his interim fill-in this season, Rob Rush. Cosell’s late grandfather was ABC broadcaster Howard Cosell.
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps tendinitis) plans to begin a throwing program this weekend or early next week, depending on how he feels.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (mild finger strain) felt good playing catch and plans to throw a bullpen Friday. If all goes well, he could make his next scheduled start Sunday without missing a turn. ... Syndergaard, on the 10-day disabled list with a strained ligament in his right index finger, said he’ll probably miss one or two starts. ... 3B Todd Frazier (strained left hamstring) was scheduled to play five innings in a rehab game with Triple-A Las Vegas. ... RHP Anthony Swarzak (strained left oblique) was set to pitch an inning for Las Vegas. His final rehab outing is expected to be Sunday, according to Callaway. ... Sandy Alderson said he’s “a little surprised” by how long it’s taking LF Yoenis Cespedes to come back from his strained right hip flexor, an injury the GM said is “somewhat chronic.”
Cubs RHP Tyler Chatwood (3-4, 4.10 ERA) pitches Friday night against RHP Zack Wheeler (2-4, 5.40). Chatwood has lasted only 2 2/3 innings in each of his last two starts. He has walked 45 batters and struck out 44 this season. Wheeler was hammered by Chicago for eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings on June 13 last year, the shortest outing of his career.