NEW YORK (AP) — Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a three-run homer that capped a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning and the New York Mets salvaged what had been shaping up as another sorry afternoon, startling the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Sunday.
Matt Garza pitched seven scoreless innings and the Cubs scored twice on a madcap play that featured three bad throws by Mets infielders, giving Chicago a 3-0 lead.
But New York came back against Carlos Marmol (2-4)in the ninth, starting with Marlon Byrd’s leadoff home run. Nieuwenhuis connected with one out.
Bobby Parnell (5-3) pitched the top of the ninth.
Garza gave up three hits and struck out five, and was all set up for his second win in five starts this season. The Cubs had used closer Kevin Gregg on four consecutive days and manager Dale Sveum turned to Marmol, who had been unseated as closer earlier this season.
Marmol continued to test Cubs’ fans patience by allowing a long homer to Byrd before walking Lucas Duda. After a visit from Sveum, he pitched John Buck low and away, eventually yielding an opposite-field single. Omar Quintanilla sacrificed the runners ahead and Marmol peered into the Cubs dugout.
Marmol remained in the game, however, and Nieuwenhuis took him deep off the facing of the second deck in right field. Nieuwenhuis recently was promoted to the majors after slumping earlier this season and getting demoted to Triple-A.
Garza bounced back nicely from his last time out, when he allowed nine earned runs and 11 hits. He got some help when the Mets ping-ponged the ball around the infield in the fifth inning.
Alfonso Soriano came to the plate with two outs and the Cubs up 1-0 after Starlin Castro singled and Nate Schierholtz walked. Third baseman David Wright made a diving stop to his left and Soriano’s hard grounder, then sailed his throw over the head of first baseman Daniel Murphy.
The ball bounced off the wall back to Murphy and he picked it up and fired off-balance home, trying to stop Castro from scoring. Murphy’s throw went past Buck at the plate, bonked off a wall and caromed toward third.
Omar Quintanilla was there, having come over from shortstop to back up the original play, and he sprinted in and flipped the ball toward the plate. That throw skittered wide, too, prompting the third groan in a row from the crowd, each one louder than the last.
NOTES: Garza walked two and hit a batter. … The Mets head to Atlanta for a five-game series with the Braves that will include a doubleheader on Tuesday. On Monday, RHP Dillon Gee (5-6) is expected to start for New York against Tim Hudson (4-6). The Cubs will be at home where Travis Wood (5-5) is set to face Shelby Miller (7-4) of the Cardinals. … A fan caught a foul ball backhanded in the second inning, pumped his fist and got a big cheer from the crowd.
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