Mets 5, Cubs 4
CHICAGO — Jeff McNeil likes any lineup that includes his name, no matter the position.
Making his first career start in right field, McNeil homered and drove in three runs to help the Mets beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-4, on Friday.
“I think that this guy is playing the type of baseball that you want everybody to play,” Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said.
Michael Conforto also connected as the slumping Mets won for the fourth time in their last 11 games. Brooks Pounders (1-0) got his first victory since he was acquired in a deal with Cleveland last week, and Edwin Diaz worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 16th save.
McNeil’s two-run shot off Yu Darvish gave the Mets a 3-2 lead in the third. With two outs and Adeiny Hechavarria on second in the seventh, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon brought in the left-hander Mike Montgomery to face McNeil, and McNeil pulled a run-scoring single into right field, breaking a 4-4 tie.
“Kind of swung at a borderline pitch, but got enough barrel on it and found a hole,” McNeil said.
McNeil also played right as part of an unusual defensive lineup by Callaway, who was looking for more offense after a 7-4 loss on Thursday night in the opener of the four-game series. McNeil’s first major league action in right came when he played two innings at the position May 21 against Washington.
McNeil moved to left before the Cubs batted in the eighth and made a key defensive play on Willson Contreras’s bloop hit. McNeil picked up the ball, noticed that Anthony Rizzo had taken a wide turn around second and ran at the big first baseman to begin an inning-ending rundown.
“I think that’s just my baseball instincts kind of taking over,” he said.
The Cubs’ Albert Almora Jr. was picked off first for the final out of the sixth.
“We made too many mistakes,” Maddon said. “On the bases, we made mistakes.”
Addison Russell hit a two-run homer for Chicago, which dropped to 2-2 amid a 10-game homestand. Brad Brach (3-2) took the loss after surrendering Hechavarria’s leadoff single in the seventh.
Darvish allowed four runs and four hits in six innings in his 10th consecutive no-decision, extending a franchise record. He became the first traditional starting pitcher with 10 straight no-decisions since Philadelphia’s Randy Lerch in 1977.
“I want to compete,” Darvish said. “Not only frustrating, like, weird. I’m not losing. I’m not winning. It’s just weird. I want to win.”
While Darvish was just O.K. on the mound, he had quite a day at the plate.
He slapped a two-out run-scoring single through the right side, giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the second. He led off the fifth with another single against Jason Vargas, and Russell followed with a drive into the bleachers in left for his fifth homer.
The 32-year-old Darvish entered the game with one hit this season and six for his career.
Russell’s first homer since May 28 made it 4-3, but the Mets tied it in the sixth. Darvish struck out Pete Alonso and Robinson Cano before Conforto went deep for his 15th of the season.
“I know I give up a lot of runs after we score,” Darvish said. “I really focused on Conforto on that pitch, but just, he hit it.”
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