Flushing, NY (Sports Network) - Derrek Lee's run-scoring double and Aramis Ramirez's two-run homer in the 10th inning silenced the Shea Stadium crowd as the Chicago Cubs escaped with a 9-6 victory over the beleaguered New York Mets in the third tilt of a four-game set.
The Mets stranded a runner on third base in five straight innings leading up the 10th. Luis Ayala, in his second inning of relief, got two quick outs in the top of the frame before Ryan Theriot's single up the middle.
Theriot stole second and Lee blooped an opposite-field double down the right- field line to score a run, and Ramirez followed with a blast over the left field wall to give Chicago a 9-6 lead.
Kerry Wood set down the Mets in order in the bottom half for his 34th save.
Bob Howry (7-4) wiggled out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth to pick up the win, while Carlos Zambrano struggled in his second straight start following his no-hitter on September 14, allowing three hits, four walks and five runs in 4 2/3 innings on the mound.
Mark DeRosa knocked in three runs before leaving with a strained calf for the NL Central champion Cubs, who have won three of four.
Ayala (2-10) took the loss behind Oliver Perez, who yielded five runs on six hits and five walks in just 4 1/3 innings of work for the Mets, losers in four of five.
Carlos Delgado had two hits, including a grand slam for New York, which went just 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position, stranding 10 on base.
"We have to do a better job. At this juncture it's critical," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said of stranding runners.
The Mets are now in a tie with the Brewers in the NL wild card race after Milwaukee topped Pittsburgh, 4-2, on Wednesday. The Mets did get some good news as the Phillies lost, 10-4, to Atlanta, leaving NY 1 1/2 out of the NL East lead.
"We have to be ready to face it," Manuel said of coming back from a heart- breaking defeat. "If we can get through this it will be important."
DeRosa accounted for the first run of the game with a leadoff homer in the away second, his 21st of the year.
After the Cubs left the bases loaded in the third, New York capitalized on its chance in the bottom half. With a runner on and two outs, Zambrano walked three straight, the last of which a 10-pitch battle with David Wright to force in a run.
Zambrano then ran the count full to Delgado, who guided an outside fastball over the wall in left-center for his 13th career grand slam.
But Perez could not maintain the 5-1 lead, loading the bases in the fifth for DeRosa, who poked a two-run double down the third-base line to end the left- hander's sub-par outing.
Duaner Sanchez came in from the bullpen and gave up a single to left from Reed Johnson, scoring a run. Daniel Murphy misplayed the ball, and Kosuke Fukudome, running for DeRosa who injured his hamstring on the double, came in for a 5-5 tie.
Soriano stepped in against Brian Stokes with two on and two outs in the top of the seventh and put the Cubs ahead, doubling past a diving Wright at third.
The Mets managed to push a run across in the eighth after spoiling chances in the previous innings. Jeff Samardzija put the first two hitters on before getting two outs. The Cubs decided to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Endy Chavez to load the bases, and Samardzija walked Ramon Martinez on five pitches to allow the tying run to cross home.
New York had a perfect opportunity to win the game as Murphy tripled to lead off the ninth. Wright struck out swinging before two intentional walks loaded the bases. Howry bore down, getting Ryan Church to ground out weakly into a force out at the plate and fanning Ramon Castro to end the inning.