NEW YORK -- The swiftness with which the Mets have reversed their fortunes against the Cubs has been nothing short of remarkable. As recently as mid-October, the Mets entered the National League Championship Series heavy underdogs to their NL rivals, losers of all seven games they played against them in the regular season.
The Mets went on to sweep that four-game series en route to the pennant, before repeating the trick this weekend at Citi Field. In front of a spirited holiday weekend crowd, the Mets bashed a season-high 22 hits for a season-high run total in Sunday's 14-3 thumping of the Cubs. It was the Mets' first regular-season four-game sweep of the Cubs since 1985, back when Darryl Strawberry and Ryne Sandberg were the stars.
"It was a rough weekend -- give the Mets credit," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "They really swung the bats well, and of course, they always pitch well. They got us this time, they got us last year at the end of the season. For me, it's keep moving it forward. This is an easy game for me to forget about."
Wilmer Flores homered twice and joined Edgardo Alfonzo as the only Mets players to go 6-for-6 in a game, with the first two of his half-dozen coming during a seven-run second-inning rally off Jon Lester. In the shortest outing of his career, the Cubs left-hander gave up eight runs over 1 1/3 innings, while Mets starter Noah Syndergaard allowed one run in seven.
Since topping out at 27 games over .500 on June 19, the Cubs have lost 10 of 14, though they still own baseball's best record by percentage points over the Rangers. The Mets, meanwhile, rebounded from a three-game sweep last week at the hands of the Nationals.
"We had a rough series in Washington and we never put our heads down," Flores said. "We came here like it was another game, and we played hard."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Seven up: The Mets did much of their damage during the seven-run second, overcoming a season-long bugaboo with runners in scoring position by going 5-for-7 that inning alone. Five Mets player drove in runs, including Flores twice and Rene Rivera, who launched a two-run homer.
"Unbelievable feeling," Flores said of his 6-for-6 day. "Six hits? I never thought I was going to get six hits ever. But it happened. I put good swings on the ball." More >
July swoon: In the month of June, Lester gave up seven earned runs over 44 2/3 innings in six starts. He went 4-0, and was named NL Pitcher of the Month. Turn the calendar, and everything changed. The lefty served up more runs in 1 1/3 innings -- the shortest outing of his career. Lester was hit hard and quickly, and lifted after throwing 56 pitches. It's the first time he's given up three home runs since last Aug. 19 against the Tigers.
"There were a lot of balls that missed up," Lester said. "I didn't really ever make an adjustment getting the ball back down in the zone and they made me pay. Usually you can get some missed hits, usually you can get some flyouts. I wasn't throwing the ball down in the middle by any means. They're swinging the bats really well right now, and they made us pay for our mistakes." More >
Synder-good enough: Pitching most of the day with a sizable lead, Syndergaard had significant margin for error in his first game since admitting to having a small bone spur in his right elbow. He didn't need it, pumping his fastball as high as 101 mph and retiring 11 in a row during one stretch. He locked in after allowing a run in the first and was extremely efficient, needing just 84 pitches to complete seven innings. More >
Welcome to the show: The Cubs promoted third baseman Jeimer Candelario from Triple-A Iowa on Sunday, and he had a tough assignment. Take an early flight from Texas to New York and then face Syndergaard's heat. He struck out in his first two at-bats, then collected his first Major League hit with a leadoff single in the seventh.
"I see this guy throwing that hard, you just have to be able to not try to do too much and put a good swing on it," said Candelario, who had about 20 family and friends at Citi Field for the game. More >
"For us to come in here with the home crowd, and sweep four games, is pretty incredible." -- Syndergaard
"They overplayed us, simple as that. We didn't play good enough, we didn't hit good enough, we didn't pitch good enough. It was a sloppy performance for us." -- Cubs catcher Miguel Montero
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Montero made his Major League pitching debut in the seventh. He hit Rivera with a pitch and then got pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza to ground out to end the inning. The Cubs needed a position player to sub as pitcher three times last season, as outfielder Chris Denorfia did so on Aug. 19 against the Tigers. Catcher David Ross also made two appearances (May 9 vs. the Brewers and July 26 vs. the Phillies). More >
• The Mets' 22 hits tied for their most in a home game in franchise history. They had not recorded that many since Sept. 20, 1981, against the Cardinals at Shea Stadium.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks will open a brief four-game homestand on Monday against the Reds. Hendricks is coming off a win over the Reds in which he threw a career-high 117 pitches. He's 2-1 with a 4.04 ERA in six career starts against Cincinnati. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Mets: After spending most of late June jockeying with the Marlins for second place in the NL East, the Mets will have a chance to keep Miami at bay when they host a three-game series beginning Monday at Citi Field. Matt Harvey will take on right-hander Tom Koehler in the opener, a 4:10 p.m. ET Fourth of July matinee.