Cubs look to continue Mets woes

NEW YORK – There is no better way to trace how the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets have fared in the first two games of a four-game series at Citi Field than via the actions of their managers late Friday night.

While Joe Maddon talked about the Cubs’ total team effort a few minutes after and a few hundred feet down the hall from where Mickey Callaway held his first postgame team meeting as a big-league skipper.

The Cubs will look to continue the Mets’ misery Saturday night, when Chicago left-hander Mike Montgomery (1-1, 4.35 ERA) is scheduled to oppose New York right-hander Jacob deGrom (4-0, 1.52 ERA).

The Cubs assured themselves at least a split of the series Friday, when six pitchers combined on a six-hitter and five bench players combined for four hits and five RBIs in a come-from-behind 7-4 win.

Tommy La Stella’s pinch-hit single helped fuel a three-run seventh inning in which Kyle Schwarber, who entered in a double-switch in the sixth, delivered a sacrifice fly. Schwarber hit a three-run homer in the eighth and Ian Happ, who pinch hit in the eighth and remained in the game, added an RBI single in the ninth for the Cubs (31-23), who won for the sixth time in eight games.

“How about the guys off the bench tonight.” Maddon said. “Schwarber popped that one. Really nice. That was outstanding. Tommy’s pinch hit, Happ drove in a run coming off the bench.”

Overall, the Cubs’ reserves including pitcher Jon Lester, a career .094 hitter who grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth went 4-for-7.

“A team win,” Maddon said. “Everybody played, including Jon Lester off the bench. It was pretty impressive.”

Callaway was using decidedly less positive adjectives after the Mets (27-28) lost for the seventh time in nine games to fall under .500 for the first time this season. The rookie manager criticized New York’s poor fundamentals on a night in which centerfielder Michael Conforto and third baseman Jose Reyes each made miscues that weren’t officially scored as errors.

Conforto overthrew home plate on Schwarber’s sacrifice fly, which allowed La Stella to advance to second. La Stella scored the tying run on Ben Zobrist’s double.

“We are not playing the game the right way and we have to do a better job at it,” Callaway said. “When you miss the cutoff man and a guy takes an extra base in a close game like that, we could have kept the double play in order and, we air-mailed it to home. That’s stuff you learn when you’re 18 and we just didn’t do it tonight.”

In the ninth inning, Reyes, who entered in a double switch in the seventh, misplayed Addison Russell’s grounder into what was initially called an error before it was changed to a hit following the game.

Jay Bruce, who left with a sore lower back, said Callaway’s message in the locker room was short and direct.

“One, keep your head up,” Bruce said. “Two, expect to do the right things. Expect to come in here, expect to win.”

The Mets should have a better chance at that Saturday, when deGrom looks to continue his dominant season. DeGrom didn’t factor into the decision in his most recent start Monday, when he allowed one run over seven innings before Seth Lugo squandered a one-run lead in New York’s 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

DeGrom, who leads the National League in ERA, has allowed just two runs over 40 1/3 innings in his last seven starts dating back to Apr. 21.

Montgomery will be making his second start of the season as he fills in for the injured Yu Darvish. The southpaw earned the win in his 2018 rotation debut Monday, when he tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings as the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-0.

DeGrom is 2-2 with a 3.99 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs. Montgomery is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two career games (one start) against the Mets.