Schwarber, Cubs rally to win 7-4; Mets drop under .500
NEW YORK (AP) — Kyle Schwarber began the game on the bench, entering in the sixth inning as part of a double switch. It didn't take long for him to make a meaningful impact.
Schwarber homered and drove in four runs as the Chicago Cubs rallied against a beleaguered Mets bullpen to defeat New York 7-4 Friday night.
The Cubs trailed 2-0 in the seventh before posting their fifth win in six games.
"How about the guys off the bench tonight?" Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "Schwarber popped that one really nice. That was outstanding."
The Mets, who started out 11-1 under new manager Mickey Callaway, dropped below .500 for the first time this season at 27-28. They have lost seven of nine, including four straight at home.
"We are not snake-bitten," Callaway said. "We are not playing the game the right way and we have to do better at it."
Playing in front of a large crowd on a comfortable night, Mets relievers once again failed to hold a lead and spoiled a solid outing from starter Zack Wheeler.
Addison Russell led off the Cubs seventh with a single. With a hit-and-run on, Tommy La Stella singled through the shift on the left side for his major league-leading 12th pinch hit, advancing Russell to third and chasing Wheeler.
Schwarber cut the Mets' lead in half with a sacrifice fly off reliever Paul Sewald. Ben Zobrist followed with a tying double as a dejected Wheeler hung his head in the dugout. Zobrist reached base four times.
After Jason Heyward grounded out, Kris Bryant singled home Zobrist for a 3-2 lead.
Schwarber broke it open in the eighth against Sewald (0-4), hitting a three-run homer over the left-center field wall for his 11th of the season. Ian Happ added an RBI single in the ninth.
"Tommy's pinch-hit, Happ drove in a run coming off the bench also," Maddon said. "Pretty impressive."
New York's bullpen is 1-7 with an 8.42 ERA over its last nine games.
"Nobody wants to blow games down there," Sewald said. "It's frustrating when we have to tell the starting pitcher 'sorry' over and over again."
Randy Rosario (2-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Brandon Morrow worked the ninth for his 14th save in 15 opportunities.
Seeing regular playing time with star slugger Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list, Brandon Nimmo broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with his seventh homer, a two-run shot off starter Tyler Chatwood.
The always-smiling, excitable outfielder sped around the bases so quickly that he almost caught up to lead runner Amed Rosario coming down the third base line. Nimmo has driven in a run in a career-best five straight games.
Throwing harder than he has so far this season, Wheeler's fastball topped out at 99 mph. He allowed two runs on seven hits in six-plus innings, walking two and striking out four.
"I guess it was just coming out a little easier today," Wheeler said.
Adrian Gonzalez singled in two runs in the Mets eighth.
Most of the Cubs players donned high socks, recalling an old-fashioned look not seen as often in today's game. Bryant credited teammate Anthony Rizzo for starting the trend, noting that they sported the look on this particular night to back Chatwood.
"We were just all doing it because Tyler wears his pants up," the former MVP said. "We were all here supporting Tyler because it's his day."
Bryant relished driving in the go-ahead run against Sewald, his friend since childhood and former college teammate at the University of San Diego.
"He's my golfing buddy, so we're hanging out quite a bit, but he's always been able to get me out," Bryant said with a grin.
BOUNTY OF BACKSTOPS
The Mets selected the contract of catcher Jose Lobaton from Triple-A Las Vegas prior to the game.
Lobaton joined Devin Mesoraco and Kevin Plawecki as the third catcher on New York's roster. The right-handed hitting Plawecki is slated to play first base on Saturday, however, as the injury-riddled club tries to solve its recent struggles against lefties.
"We thought that this would be our most advantageous way to get some more offense in the lineup any given night," Callaway said.
The 33-year-old Lobaton hit .152 in 18 games with the Mets earlier this season. Right-hander Scott Copeland was designated for assignment to make room.
The Mets elected outfielder Michael Conforto to be their players' union representative, replacing the recently traded Matt Harvey.
Mets: RF Jay Bruce was lifted in the fifth inning after experiencing lower back discomfort. He is expected to be in the lineup on Saturday. ... Cespedes (strained right hip flexor) is getting closer to returning. "He feels great," Callaway said. "I think that when he starts getting out there, where we can get him some reps at his actual position in practice, that things are going to go really fast." ... LHP Steven Matz (mild finger strain) threw a bullpen and could make his scheduled start Sunday. ... Mesoraco was in the starting lineup, catching and batting cleanup a night after getting clubbed in the mask by Javier Baez's backswing.
Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (1-1, 4.35 ERA) pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings on Monday in Pittsburgh, his first start of the season after making 18 relief appearances.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (4-0, NL-leading 1.52 ERA) has allowed just two runs total over his last seven starts, a span of 40 1/3 innings in which he has fanned 55 batters. New York is 2-5 in those games despite deGrom's dominance.