Cubs back Wood's solid start in win over Mets

Cubs back Wood's solid start in win over Mets

Cubs back Wood's solid start in win over Mets
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo won't have to worry about trying to end an extended losing streak. Joe Mather and Travis Wood took care of that.

Mather made the most of an old but new uniform number, hitting a two-run homer to back Wood and lead the Cubs to a 6-1 victory Monday night over the mistake-prone Mets, who made three errors in the seventh.

Wood won his second straight start, giving up five hits over seven innings and striking out six. The left-hander has had a tough draw this month. Johan Santana was the fourth Cy Young winner Wood has faced, with the list including the Giants' Barry Zito, the Tigers' Justin Verlander and the White Sox's Jake Peavy. This was Wood's fourth quality start in his last five games.

"I try to say it doesn't [matter] because you always want to bring your 'A' game every time, but when you're going against guys like Johan, you know you have to bring it," Wood said.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum complimented Wood on how his fastball had a lot of "life" to it. The lefty has justified the Cubs' decision to deal top reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds with each start. It doesn't seem to matter how many Cy Young Awards his opponents have won.

"That's the sign of a guy competing and not going out there worrying about who he's pitching against or the score of the game," Sveum said of Wood. "He knows his job is to not give up anything because the guys on the other side of the fence aren't going to give up anything either and he's matched them pitch for pitch."

"He threw strikes," New York's David Wright said of Wood. "He threw a ton of strikes. You try to go up there and put the ball in play early. We hit it at somebody. If you go up there and take pitches, you're down 0-1, 0-2."

Wood didn't impress anyone in Spring Training, but has delivered this month, posting a 2.27 ERA in June. How's his confidence level?

"Good right now -- absolutely high right now," Wood said, smiling.

Santana, who threw the Mets' first no-hitter June 1 against the Cardinals, struck out six over six innings, giving up five hits and walking three. He definitely had the edge, entering the game with a 3-0 mark against Chicago. The Cubs also were just 3-16 against left-handed starters prior to Monday's game.

"We kind of have a lineup that goes out there against lefties and it's our job to beat them," Mather said. "When we go out there and do that, we feel we need to produce."

Mather was wearing No. 21 on Monday for the first time this season after opening with No. 16. Why the switch?

"I had it in high school," he said. "It's always been a favorite number of mine. I always see the highlight of Roberto Clemente running around and I see the 21 on his back and I always liked that and always wanted myself to look like that. I always liked the number for that reason."

Clubhouse manager Tom Hellmann approved of the switch. It looked even better with two outs in the Chicago fourth when Geovany Soto walked and Mather followed with his fourth home run, hitting a 1-1 pitch from Santana into the left-field bleachers.

"It was a good way to break it in, that's for sure," Mather said.

"He got the perfect trajectory," Sveum said of Mather, who hit the ball into the wind. "You put a little more height on it and the wind would knock it down."

The wind might have been the problem in the Chicago seventh. Pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas reached third as Wright dropped Cardenas' popup in front of home plate.

"I thought I had it," Wright said. "I misjudged the wind a little bit. It's my call. If I think I can catch it, I call him off, and I did that."

One out later, Cardenas scored as right fielder Lucas Duda muffed Darwin Barney's fly ball for error No. 2. Barney then tallied on second baseman Ronny Cedeno's fielding error as he botched Starlin Castro's grounder. Two more runs scored on Jeff Baker's RBI single and a run-scoring groundout by Soto.

"We don't make those mistakes," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Unfortunately, tonight it came back to really haunt us."

The Cubs will add another left-handed bat on Tuesday when the team promotes Rizzo, its highly touted first baseman, from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs were batting .215 against left-handed pitching, and Rizzo, who was leading the Pacific Coast League with 23 home runs, will be a welcome addition. He was hitting .313 against southpaws.

Rizzo has been the focus of attention the last few days. After talking to reporters postgame, Mather smiled.

"What, no Rizzo questions?" Mather said.

That will come on Tuesday.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.