The Chicago Cubs hung with the New York Mets throughout Game 1 of the NLCS Saturday, but home runs from Daniel Murphy and Travis D'Arnaud proved to be the difference as the Mets picked up a 4-2 win.
The victory breaks a three-game winning streak for the Cubs. Jon Lester was responsible for all four runs in the game as he was tagged with his second loss of the postseason.
The Cubs went down in order against Matt Harvey in the first inning, and although Jon Lester nearly pulled off the same trick against the Mets, Daniel Murphy had other ideas. On a cut-fastball, Murphy turned on the pitch and hammered it off the facing of the upper deck in right field to give the Mets a 1-0 lead.
Harvey retired the side in the second inning as well, but Lester settled in and got out of the bottom of the inning unscathed. On a bouncing ball up the middle, Javier Baez made an excellent play as he grabbed the ball, tagged the second base bag with his toes, and then threw the ball on to first to complete the double play and keep the deficit at one run.
The teams both went 1-2-3 in the third inning, and although Kyle Schwarber scalded a line drive up the middle in the fourth inning, Wilmer Flores was there to snag the line drive. Kris Bryant struck out on an inside breaking ball for the third out of the inning, marking the 12th consecutive batter that Harvey had sent down in a row.
In the bottom of the frame, Lester allowed a lead-off walk to David Wright, and then the veteran third baseman stole second base. The Cubs' pitcher got out of the jam however, striking out Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes and inducing a pop-out from Travis D'Arnaud to end the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Cubs finally got to Harvey and tied the game. After Rizzo was hit by a pitch, he scored from first on an RBI double from Starlin Castro. After Jorge Soler was retired, Javier Baez laced a single to left field, but Castro was gunned out at the plate by Yoenis Cespedes for the second out. David Ross was intentionally walked, and Lester struck out to end the inning.
The Cubs paid for their mistake in the bottom of the inning as the Mets took the lead back. After Bryant failed to turn a double play on a Harvey bunt, Curtis Granderson blooped an RBI single into center field to make it a 2-1 game through five innings.
The Cubs hit several balls hard in the sixth inning, but they couldn't get anything to fall, and the Mets once again made them pay. After Baez and Rizzo made outstanding catches to start the inning, Travis D'Arnaud made sure to keep the ball away from everybody as he launched a 430-foot home run to center field to give the Mets a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Cubs had an opportunity to cut into the Mets' lead, but Harvey managed to pitch out of it. Baez struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, and pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella did the same thing as the Mets held onto their advantage.
The Mets added another run in the bottom of the frame thanks to some smart base running. Juan Lagares reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Harvey, and after he stole third base he scored on a sacrifice fly by Curtis Granderson to make it 4-1 Mets.
The Cubs got two quick outs to start the eighth inning, but Schwarber finally chased Harvey from the game. He crushed his fourth home run of the postseason to deep right field, making it a 4-2 contest late.
Kris Bryant walked against Mets reliever Jeurys Familia, but Anthony Rizzo bounced out to shortstop on the first pitch he saw to end the inning and a potential rally.