Anthony Rizzo smacked a three-run homer in the third inning and Jon Lester allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 5-1 home victory over the New York Mets on Monday night.

Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester Lead Cubs To 5-1 Win Over Mets

The win ended the Mets’ streak of eight straight games against the Cubs: their four-game sweep of the 2015 National League Championship Series and another sweep from June 20-July 3 at Citi Field.

“We didn’t play very well in New York, and I think that’s the biggest thing,” lefty Lester said. “We came out tonight and played clean baseball.”

Rookie left-hander Steven Matz, who was pitching with a painful bone spur in his left elbow, took the loss for the Mets and exited after five-plus innings.

“I thought he was, even though he threw the ball fine, I didn’t think he had his real grade-A stuff,” said Mets manager Terry Collins of Matz. “But he battled the best he could. Hopefully he’s feeling OK after this. It was good work for him today.”

Matz (7-6) gave up eight hits and four runs, and also struck out five and walked one. leaving after 102 pitches and a leadoff double in the sixth. He has lost five consecutive decisions over his last nine starts and has not recorded a win since May 25.

The Cubs (56-36, 1st in NL Central) beat the Mets (49-43, 3rd in NL East) for the first time since July 2, 2015 when they won 6-1 at Citi Field.

In the four previous meetings with the Mets this year, the Cubs did not score more than three runs in a game. On Monday, they matched that in one inning. With one out in the third, Javier Baez singled, his second hit of the game, and Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch to set up Rizzo, who fought Matz in a 10-pitch at-bat. Rizzo hit five straight foul balls before his home run. According to Statcast™, the first baseman’s homer was hit at 106.9 mph and traveled 423 feet. He now has 68 RBIs, most on the Cubs.

“That was a fabulous at-bat — that’s what you’re looking for,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We want to be about that kind of two-strike at-bat.”

Baez delivered well on his second straight start at second base for Ben Zobrist, who was given the time off for his personal All-Star break. Baez had two hits and made a perfectly timed jump to rob Curtis Granderson of a potential hit leading off the Mets’ sixth. Baez wasn’t the only sub who came through, however, as Matt Szczur, starting in right field for Jason Heyward, posted his first career three-hit game. Szczur scored on David Ross’ sacrifice fly off Seth Lugo to put the Cubs up 4-0.

“He stays ready,” Maddon said of Szczur. “Here’s a guy who’s been playing sporadically but he’s always ready, He’s always engaged. There’s never a pout. He’s a wonderful team player. His football background probably helps with that. They understand the team concept.”

Shifting to left field on a quasi-permanent basis to ease pressure off his sore right quadriceps, Yoenis Cespedes saved Matz an additional run in the third with a rocket throw home. After Rizzo’s homer, Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras hit a ground-rule double into the ivy on the left-field wall, then attempted to score on Szczur’s single. However, Cespedes’ throw beat Contreras home by several steps. Cespedes later committed a two-base fielding error in the eighth inning, allowing Albert Almora Jr.’s RBI single to roll all the way to the fence.

The two teams will face off for the second game of their series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night. After an 11-day layoff to rest his tired right arm, Noah Syndergaard will take the mound for the Mets. Syndergaard’s arm fatigue caused him to miss the All-Star Game.

Righty Jake Arrieta will start for the Cubs. Arrieta gave up a season-high six runs on nine hits over six innings in his last outing against the Pirates July 8.

PHOTO: CHICAGO, IL – JULY 18: Anthony Rizzo #44 of the Chicago Cubs points to the dugout as he runs the bases after hitting a three run home run in the 3rd inning against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Read more about:
Chat With uSports On Facebook! Get latest news and interviews delivered directly to your Messenger!