NEW YORK (AP) — Ike Davis homered, Jordany Valdespin hit one out for the second day in a row and Dillon Gee pitched one-run ball for eight innings to help the New York Mets beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 Saturday.
Gee (6-7) gave up seven hits without a walk and struck out four to keep up a run of strong starts by Mets pitchers. They’ve gone at least six innings in 19 of the past 21 games, and have an ERA of 3.16.
Bobby Parnell allowed a leadoff double to Anthony Rizzo, but retired the final three batters for his second save, striking out Steve Clevenger on a 101 mph fastball to end it.
One batter earlier, shortstop Ruben Tejada helped out Parnell by ranging into left field to catch Bryan LaHair’s blooper, tumbling to the grass as the Citi Field crowd let out a roar.
Jeff Samardzija had another strong outing for the Cubs after a bad month. Before he won last Sunday, the right-hander hadn’t had a start longer than 5 1-3 innings since May 29. He went 1-4 in six starts since then. On Saturday, Samardzija (6-8) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings for his second straight quality start.
Samardzija hit into a double play on a bunt attempt in the third. With one out in the third, he dropped the ball right in front of the plate trying to sacrifice Luis Valbuena to second. Mets catcher Josh Thole pounced on the ball and threw to Tejada to get Valbuena. Tejada fired to first to get Samardzija, who was a star wide receiver at Notre Dame who may not have been running at his top speed.
Davis’ two-run homer to right that bounced off the facing of the second deck in the third inning and Valdespin’s solo shot in the second were enough for the Mets to win for the seventh time in 10 games.
After a miserable start this season that had manager Terry Collins answering questions about sending him to the minors, Davis has seven homers and 28 RBIs in his past 24 games. He still sits sometimes against tough left-handed pitchers, as he did the night before. But he played a central role in the Mets’ near comeback that night, with a two-run pinch-hit single that got New York to within a run before a game-ending double play.
The Cubs, who have won eight of their past 12 games only had three hits through the first five innings against Gee a day after they had a season-high 18. They finally broke through in the sixth, when Luis Valbuena hit a leadoff double and David DeJesus drove him in with one out. But Chicago still stranded two more runners that inning and couldn’t do anything else against Gee.
Gee had an extra day of rest before Saturday’s start, something that hasn’t always been beneficial. He was 1-5 with a 5.87 ERA this season with more than normal rest. The right-hander produced one of his best starts of the year Saturday, though. His previous longest had been 7 1-3 innings, and he tied a season-low with only one earned run.
NOTES: New York LHP Johan Santana twisted his left ankle in Friday’s game, but the Mets expect him to be ready to start their first game after the All-Star break. … Cubs SS Starlin Castro was back in the lineup after a day off. He spent the game next to manager Dale Sveum, who wanted to go over game situations with Castro, who had made some mental mistakes this season and last. Sveum didn’t say what questions he posed to the young shortstop, but said of Castro’s answers: “They were good.” … The Mets celebrated Chinese-American heritage day with opera, kung fu and live musical performances. They also displayed the flag of the People’s Republic of China on the scoreboard. … Castro was thrown out trying to steal second in the first inning, his NL-high 10th time caught stealing this season.
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