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Cubs battle back, but Mets walk off with victory

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Cubs battle back, but Mets walk off with victory

Friday, Sept. 9, 2011Posted: 10:20 p.m. Updated: 11:00 p.m.

Associated Press

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READ: Cubs will feel a wave of emotions in NY on 911
READ: The eternal optimism of Carlos Pena

NEW YORK (AP) By the time the boos had faded, the New York Mets were already mounting the winning rally.Justin Turner doubled in the decisive run with two outs in the ninth inning and New York beat the Chicago Cubs 5-4 on Friday night moments after blowing a one-run lead.A scrappy rookie who has proven reliable in clutch situations, Turner recalled that his other game-ending RBI this season came when he was hit by a pitch."Yeah, this one definitely felt better," he said.Turner also had a tiebreaking double in the fifth and finished with three hits. Jason Bay doubled twice and threw out a runner at the plate for New York in the opener of a weekend series that culminates Sunday night with a pregame ceremony to mark the 10-year anniversary of 911.The Mets are offering free tickets to New York City first responders and their families for that game.Earlier on Friday, several current and former Mets visited New York City firehouses - from David Wright and Bobby Parnell to Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Robin Ventura and John Olerud.Wright and Bay each had an RBI to help the Mets overcome an early 3-0 deficit for their 11th victory in 16 games. Mike Pelfrey recovered from a rocky start as New York evened the all-time series against the Cubs at 345-345 with two ties."Regardless of where you're at, those are always exciting," Bay said about walk-off wins. "And you could see by the way we run out there and try to beat up whoever does it."Late in a lost season, the Mets are trying to groom a potential closer for the future. Parnell has failed to grab hold of the role, however, and Manny Acosta (3-1) couldn't put this one away.Acosta, who saved a 1-0 win Wednesday at Florida, gave up a tying single to new father Darwin Barney with two outs in the top of the ninth. Aramis Ramirez flied out to end the inning, but the crowd of 27,639 let Acosta hear it.His teammates responded right away.Nick Evans singled off Sean Marshall (6-6) to open the bottom half and pinch-runner Jason Pridie advanced on Josh Thole's sacrifice. After pinch-hitter Ruben Tejada hit a soft liner for an out, Jose Reyes was intentionally walked.Turner hit a long drive to center over the head of Marlon Byrd, who was playing shallow. The ball bounced on the warning track and over the fence - it was initially ruled a single, then changed to a ground-rule double."Just kind of hung that curveball down the middle and Turner put a good swing on it," Marshall said. "The ball stayed in the air for a while, the ball kind of carried and that was it."Turner touched second and was swarmed by excited teammates. Then he was pelted in the face with a cream pie during a TV interview on the field."Of all the guys on the team, he probably has the most disciplined swing in those situations," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He just wants to put the bat on the ball. He doesn't care where it goes."Carlos Pena extended his power surge with a long two-run homer for Chicago, which has lost 12 of 18. Bryan LaHair had an RBI triple before he was thrown out by Bay at the plate on pitcher Casey Coleman's fly to left.Reyes, trying to hold off Milwaukee's Ryan Braun for the NL batting title, blooped a ground-rule double in the fifth and scored on Turner's soft double to put the Mets up 4-3. Reyes has hit safely in all 12 games since returning from the disabled list.Pelfrey caught a break in the seventh when pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt hit a one-out grounder that appeared headed into right field for a single that could have put runners at the corners. But the ball bounced up and hit pinch-runner Tony Campana for the second out.After Castro was hit by a pitch, Josh Stinson retired Barney on a flyball to end the inning."We battled it all the way to the end and we gave ourselves a shot," Pena said. "We had one of our best on the mound and they beat us. That's the only way to look at it."Pelfrey loaded the bases with one out in the first, prompting a visit from pitching coach Dan Warthen. The big right-hander then struck out Alfonso Soriano and got Byrd on a liner to shortstop to escape unscathed after 29 pitches.NOTES:
Mets ace Johan Santana, sidelined all season following shoulder surgery, tossed three innings in a rehab start with Class-A Savannah in a South Atlantic League playoff game. He gave up two hits and an unearned run, with one walk and one strikeout. The left-hander threw 39 pitches, 27 for strikes. Next, the Mets hope Santana recovers well enough to pitch again in five days - either in another minor league playoff game or a simulated or instructional league game. "I'm not looking for results. I'm not looking for velocity," Collins said. "I'm looking to see how he comes out of this tomorrow." ... Barney rejoined the team in time for batting practice. He flew in from Oregon following the birth Wednesday of his daughter, Zoey Jane Leilani. ... RHP Randy Wells (7-4) tries to extend his career-best five-game winning streak when he starts Saturday for Chicago against LHP Chris Capuano (10-12), who is 8-3 against the Cubs.

Cubs know it's time to flip the script regarding road woes

Cubs know it's time to flip the script regarding road woes

As the Cubs got set to kick off the Crosstown series with the White Sox on the afternoon of June 18, GM Jed Hoyer emerged outside the third-base dugout and talked about a variety of topics regarding his team.

One such topic was the Cubs' ugly home-road splits and at the time, Hoyer said this about his team coming off a 2-5 road trip:

"It's been a source of frustration. I think we've had three subpar road trips. There's no other way to say it. It's not something I read too much into. This is a group that's had a lot of success on the road. They've won in hostile environments in the playoffs before, so it's not like they're intimidated by crowds or intimidated by travel. 

"But it's an issue with this particular group in 2019. we've played great here [at Wrigley Field]. We've played poorly on the road. If we want to reach our goals, then we're gonna have to play better on the road. All that said, we've had some really tough road series — starting out like that on the road was difficult. At Houston and at St. Louis was difficult and at Colorado and at LA — those were series that you're happy when that part of the schedule is done. 

"But there's no excuses — we have to play better on the road. I don't have any answers for it. I'd be lying to say that I really do, but I think it will change."

The issue is, it hasn't changed yet for the Cubs. 

That day was the start of a long homestand for the Cubs and the ensuing road trip — three games in Cincinnati, four in Pittsburgh and two on Chicago's South Side — didn't yield any better results for the team. They went 3-6 total, dropping their overall road record to 18-27 this season.

By comparison, the Cubs are a whopping 36-18 at "The Friendly Confines," including 7-2 over the past week-a-half.

They've enjoyed the benefit of home cooking for the last couple weeks, between the All-Star Break and a nine-game homestand to open the second half. But now they head back out on the road, with maybe their toughest task yet. 

The Cubs begin a three-game series in San Francisco Monday night against a Giants team that has been among the hottest in baseball over the last few weeks. Then there are stops in Milwaukee and St. Louis, against the two teams immediately behind the Cubs in the NL Central standings.

This will be a huge test for a Cubs team that hasn't won a series on the road since May 17-19 in Washington D.C.

"I don't feel anything different from the group," manager Joe Maddon said Sunday morning before his team's final home game of the month. "We've been through it before — it's not like it's an intimidation factor or an uncomfortable moment. I'm not getting that. We're just not playing as well. 

"I don't even know how much it's that the other teams have gotten better. I don't even know where this all comes together. But we're playing decently now. ...I want to believe that just playing better here coming out of the break that we have a better chance of starting out better on the road. We need to. To get where we want to be, we have to do that. On this coming trip, three really good foes and we gotta be on our best behavior."

Like Maddon said, they've done it before, including winning three of the four road games in the 2016 World Series, a wild Game 5 in D.C. in the 2017 NLDS and the list goes on and on.

During the previous four years under Maddon, the Cubs have posted a winning record on the road in each campaign:

2018 - 44-37
2017 - 44-37
2016 - 46-34
2015 - 48-33

In order to keep that streak going, the Cubs would have to go 23-13 on the road the rest of the way.

That's a tall order when there are still two trips each to St. Louis and Milwaukee on the schedule plus stops in Philadelphia, San Diego and a couple dates with the always-pesky Pirates in Pittsburgh.

"Obviously at home, we've won. We gotta start playing that same game on the road. It's as simple as that," Maddon said. "To get where we want to go, we have to become that road team that we've been in the past and there's no reason that we can't."

So what's been the biggest difference between the road Cubs and the home Cubs?

That would be the pitching.

On the road, the Cubs have a 4.97 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .267 with a .798 OPS. At home, those numbers drop significantly to a 3.36 ERA and .233 average and .684 OPS against.

Meanwhile, offensively, the Cubs are actually slightly more prolific on the road than they are at home.

Away from Wrigley, this lineup is scoring 5.27 runs per game while posting a .257 batting average and .798 OPS. At home, they're scoring 4.91 runs per game with a .254 batting average and .785 OPS.

In search of the culprit of the road pitching woes, the blame lies with some of the Cubs' top arms.

Kyle Hendricks has a 1.89 ERA at home and 5.44 mark on the road. Jon Lester sits at 2.95 at Wrigley and 5.09 outside of Chicago. Brandon Kintzler carries an 0.75 ERA at home, but that number jumps to 4.32 on the road. 

Only a few guys — Yu Darvish, Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop — have better marks away from Wrigley than they do at home.

As the Cubs look to flip the script on the road, they'll send Alec Mills, Darvish and Lester to the mound in San Francisco against a Giants offense that ranks sixth in baseball in OPS (.833) in July.

"We came out of the break, we got a good rest and we're playing really good baseball right now on this homestand," Kyle Hendricks said. "So we're just trying to keep that momentum going on the road. Just not think about where we are and embrace it, keep playing the same baseball. It starts with us on the mound, making good pitches. Set the tone on the road, be aggressive the same way we've been doing here and hopefully turn that around."

Up until recently, Maddon didn't even realize his team had so many run prevention issues on the road.

"That's really strange for me," Maddon said. "I would not have guessed that. So apparently we need to be just a little tighter with the pitching side of things and keep what we're doing offensively. I didn't realize there was that much of disparity involved. I didn't break it down any deeper than that.

"...I know San Francisco has been on a nice run, but sounds like we need to pitch better on the road. That's what I got out of it."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Lee Smith Hall of Fame edition

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Lee Smith Hall of Fame edition

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