Javier Assad recorded his first big-league win Monday night, when he allowed one run over six innings as the visiting Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets, 5-2, in the opener of a three-game series.
Rafael Ortega had a homer and two RBIs and Zach McKinstry laced a two-run homer for the Cubs (59-82), who won for the third time in 10 games this month.
With the loss, the Mets (89-53) had their National League East lead over the Atlanta Braves reduced to a game pending the Braves’ game later Monday against the San Francisco Giants.
Assad (1-1), making his fourth career start, gave up the one run on five hits and three walks while striking out six. Brandon Hughes, the Cubs’ fourth pitcher, inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth and allowed one hit — Francisco Lindor’s two-out homer in the ninth — over 1 2/3 innings to record his fifth save.
Mets starter Chris Bassitt (13-8) retired the first five batters he faced before Ortega homered to right. In the third, Alfonso Rivas drew a leadoff walk and McKinstry homered with one out.
The Cubs scored twice more in chasing Bassitt in the fourth. Ian Happ coaxed a leadoff walk and went to second when first baseman Pete Alonso couldn’t glove Bassitt’s pickoff throw. Happ advanced to third on Patrick Wisdom’s groundout and scored on Ortega’s single. Ortega went to second on P.J. Higgins’ comebacker and raced home when Rivas ended Bassitt’s night with an RBI single.
The Mets stirred against Assad in the fourth, when Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar hit back-to-back singles with one out. Canha scored on a two-out single by James McCann, but Assad escaped the jam by striking out Brandon Nimmo.
McKinstry and Seiya Suzuki had two hits for the Cubs. Escobar and Lindor had two hits for the Mets.
Bassitt, who entered Monday having won his previous six decisions dating back to Aug. 3, surrendered the five runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.