Flushing, NY – Anthony Rizzo crushed a go-ahead three-run home run in a five-run fifth inning and the Chicago Cubs held off the New York Mets, 8-7, in the opener of a three-game set Friday at Citi Field.
Jeff Baker added a solo shot in the frame, while Reed Johnson registered four hits, including a leadoff homer in the first, and scored three times as the Cubs pounded out a season-high 18 hits to gain their sixth win in their last eight tries.
Travis Wood (4-3) was charged for three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and four walks over six-plus innings to earn his fourth straight victory.
"As a team, we've been playing pretty good baseball these last couple weeks," remarked Wood. "Hopefully we come back (after the All-Star break) and keep it going."
Johan Santana (6-5) didn't make it out of the fifth inning for the Mets after giving up seven runs on 13 hits over 4 2/3 innings to absorb the loss.
Lucas Duda and Jordany Valdespin each smacked solo shots for the Mets, who lost for the third time in their last five contests.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the fifth, Johnson reached first on an infield single when Santana was unable to handle a flip to first from first baseman Justin Turner.
Santana appeared to roll his ankle on the play as Johnson stepped on the back of his foot while touching first base.
"I didn't know if he stepped on it or anything I just wanted to continue and try to get some outs," said Santana about the play at first.
He remained in the game, but clearly wasn't the same as Darwin Barney stroked another single to set the table for Rizzo, who crushed a first-pitch slider deep over the wall in right-center field to put the Cubs in front, 5-2.
After Alfonso Soriano fanned, Baker laced a solo shot into the left-field seats to extend the margin to 6-2.
Back-to-back singles put runners on first and second before Luis Valbuena slapped a single to right to plate a run and chase Santana from the contest.
In the sixth, Duda reached on a fielder's choice and Turner followed with a double into the right-field corner. Mike Nickeas then plated Duda with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a 7-3 game.
Chicago added a run in the eighth as Johnson and Rizzo singled around a Barney walk before Soriano lifted a single to right to score Johnson for an 8-3 lead.
New York responded in the bottom half as David Wright doubled before Turner ripped a two-out single to center to pull the Mets within 8-4.
Cubs closer Carlos Marmol came on in the ninth and served up a one-out homer to Valdespin before walking Ruben Tejada, pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy and David Wright to load the bases with one out.
Pinch-hitter Ike Davis then stroked a line drive into right field to plate a pair and trim the margin to 8-7.
Marmol worked his way out of the jam though, as Duda ripped a liner back to the pitcher, who tossed to first to double-off Davis and the Cubs escaped with the victory.
Earlier in the game, Johnson gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead before the fans had time to settle into their seats as he crushed the second pitch of the game over the left-field wall.
Duda tied the game with a leadoff homer of his own in the second, launching a 3-2 fastball into right-center field to pull the Mets even.
Tejada worked a one-out walk in the third and Ronny Cedeno followed with a double off the wall in left to plate Tejada from first and provide the Mets with a 2-1 lead.
Chicago battled back in the fourth as Baker doubled to start the frame and Geovany Soto followed with a single to put runners on the corners.
Joe Mather then lifted a sacrifice fly into center field to push home Baker and knot the game at 2-2.
Duda's homer in the second snapped Wood's scoreless streak at 19 2/3 innings which is the longest by a Cubs lefty since Juan Pizarro went 21 innings in 1971...Barney's errorless streak was halted at 69 games (569.1 innings) after his throwing error in the bottom of the sixth inning...The 13 hits allowed by Santana tied a career high.