Flores 6 for 6 with 2 HRs, Mets romp to 4-game sweep of Cubs
NEW YORK (AP) Four games, all Mets. Same story, summer or fall.
Wilmer Flores went 6 for 6 with two of New York's five home runs, and the Mets romped to another four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs by battering Jon Lester in a 14-3 blowout Sunday.
Curtis Granderson homered immediately in his return to the starting lineup, and New York also got long balls from Rene Rivera and pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson while setting season highs for runs and hits (22) in support of Noah Syndergaard (9-3).
''Coming into these four games, I think the guys knew that they had a huge challenge ahead of them, and I think they picked up their game,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Before Friday night, the Mets had never hit five home runs in a game at Citi Field, which opened in 2009. They did it twice in 45 hours against a Cubs pitching staff that began the day with a 2.97 ERA - lowest in the majors by a considerable margin.
After sweeping four games against Chicago in the NL Championship Series last October, the Mets outscored the Cubs 32-11 in winning their first four matchups this year. Chicago took all seven regular-season meetings in 2015.
''It was just a rough weekend. Give the Mets credit,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ''They got us this time. They got us last year. This is a really easy game for me to forget about.''
Maddon began pulling starters in the sixth as his major league-best squad (51-30) lost for the 10th time in 14 games and finished 4-7 on its longest road trip of the season.
By the seventh, catcher Miguel Montero was on the mound to save the bullpen, throwing pitches that mostly ranged from 79-84 mph. He yielded one run and four hits in 1 1/3 innings.
Flores drove in four runs, scored three and raised his batting average from .224 to .255. The fan favorite received a pair of standing ovations, and the crowd of 36,137 chanted his name.
The huge game couldn't have come at a better time for Flores, with Jose Reyes playing third base in the minors and getting ready to rejoin the Mets. When he does, Reyes is expected to take a sizable chunk of Flores' playing time.
''I don't think players are naive,'' Collins said.
Filling in at the hot corner since captain David Wright was injured in late May, Flores entered Sunday in an 0-for-14 slump before joining Edgardo Alfonzo as the only Mets players with six hits in a game.
Alfonzo, who accomplished the feat in August 1999 at Houston, reached out to Flores through the team to congratulate him, club spokesman Jay Horwitz said.
''Pretty good feeling,'' Flores said. ''I never thought I was going to get six hits, ever.''
New York's previous four-game sweep of the Cubs during the regular season came in June 1985 at Shea Stadium.
Granderson homered in the first and had an RBI single an inning later. Flores hit a leadoff homer and an RBI single in the second, part of a seven-run outburst that spelled the end of a miserable day for Lester (9-4), the NL pitcher of the month in June.
The left-hander gave up eight runs and nine hits in 1 1/3 innings, the shortest of his 301 career starts over 11 major league seasons. He was 5-0 in his previous seven outings and entered with a 2.03 ERA that ranked second in the majors to injured Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (1.78).
''I feel like they didn't miss a mistake the whole series,'' Lester said.
Rivera knocked in three runs, and every Mets starter had a hit by the sixth - including Syndergaard. Eight players finished with at least two hits, and New York clocked 12 home runs in the series.
PITCH AND CATCH
With the game well in hand, Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom was sent up as a pinch hitter in the eighth and flied out against Montero. ''I thought it was equal at that point,'' Maddon said. ''I have to believe that is somewhat of a first.''
New York tied the team record for hits in a home game set against St. Louis on Sept. 20, 1981.
NICE AND EASY
After allowing his only run in the first, Syndergaard enjoyed an easy afternoon in a pitching matchup of potential All-Stars. Showing no ill effects from a bone spur in his elbow that he called ''pretty insignificant,'' the big right-hander bounced back nicely from his worst start of the season last week in Washington, where the Mets lost all three games to the NL East leaders just before heading home to play Chicago. He threw 84 pitches in seven innings, striking out eight and walking none. ''A lot of fun to watch our offense really come alive,'' Syndergaard said. ''I just felt really calm out there. I wasn't trying to do too much.''
Cubs: OF Chris Coghlan went on the 15-day disabled list with a right ribcage strain and expects to have an MRI on Tuesday in Chicago. INF Jeimer Candelario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa and played third base in his major league debut. He struck out three times but singled in the seventh off Syndergaard for his first career hit.
Mets: Granderson made his first start since last Tuesday. He had not played since Wednesday because of a strained right calf. ... CF Juan Lagares (sprained left thumb) started for the first time since June 4 at Miami. ... SS Asdrubal Cabrera was rested with a sore knee but is expected to play Monday, Collins said.
Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-6, 2.76 ERA) pitches Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field against Cincinnati LHP Cody Reed (0-2, 9.00).
Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (4-10, 4.55 ERA) starts Monday afternoon against Miami RHP Tom Koehler (6-7, 4.45). Harvey's 10 losses are a career high and the second-most among major league pitchers.