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Flores 6 for 6 with 2 HRs, Mets romp to 4-game sweep of Cubs

By MIKE FITZPATRICKJuly 3, 2016
New York Mets' Wilmer Flores, right, celebrates his second home run of a baseball game with James Loney during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, July 3, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New York Mets' Wilmer Flores, right, celebrates his second home run of a baseball game with James Loney during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, July 3, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — 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).

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 — by far the lowest in the majors.

After sweeping four games from Chicago in the NL Championship Series last October, the Mets outscored the Cubs 32-11 in winning their first four matchups this year. It was New York’s first four-game sweep of Chicago in the regular season since June 1985 at Shea Stadium.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon began pulling starters in the sixth. By the seventh, catcher Miguel Montero was on the mound — throwing pitches that mostly ranged from 79-84 mph as 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. He joined Edgardo Alfonzo as the only Mets players with six hits in a game. Alfonzo did it in August 1999 at Houston.

Granderson homered in the first inning 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 included eight hits and spelled the end of a brief and 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 entered with a 2.03 ERA that ranked second in the majors to injured Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (1.78).

Rivera knocked in three runs, and every Mets starter had at least one hit.

After allowing his only run in the first, Syndergaard ended up enjoying an easy afternoon in a pitching matchup of potential All-Stars.

Showing no ill effects from the bone spur in his elbow that he called insignificant, the big right-hander bounced back nicely from his worst start of the season last week in Washington. He threw 84 pitches in seven innings, striking out eight and walking none.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: OF Chris Coghlan was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right ribcage strain; he left Saturday night’s game after three innings and expects to have an MRI on Tuesday in Chicago. ... To fill Coghlan’s roster spot, INF Jeimer Candelario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. Candelario started at third base in his major league debut. He struck out his first two times up, then singled in the seventh off Syndergaard for his first career hit. ... SS Addison Russell was rested until he pinch-hit in the sixth and stayed in the game.

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.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-6, 2.76 ERA) pitches Monday afternoon against Cincinnati LHP Cody Reed (0-2, 9.00) in the opener of a three-game series that features all day games. “Sub-optimal, in a sense,” manager Joe Maddon said.

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.

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