NEW YORK (AP) -If the
New York Mets
miss the playoffs after another late collapse, they'll look back and bemoan a pair of improbable homers that contributed to
became the second pitcher to hit a grand slam against the Mets this season, and the
clinched home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs with a 9-5 victory Monday night that damaged New York's postseason
Struggling to avoid a second consecutive September slide, the Mets dropped 2 1/2 games behind first-place Philadelphia in
the NL East and had their wild-card lead cut to one game over idle Milwaukee.
''It has nothing to do with being tight. It has nothing to do with last year. It has to do with we're struggling,''
said. ''We need to just look at the big picture. There's no need to panic. Everything we want to accomplish is right out there
for our grabbing and right out there in front of us.''
Jon Niese (1-1) lasted only three-plus innings in his third major league start and New York lost its third straight since
moving into first place Friday with a win at Atlanta.
Marquis (11-9) drove in five runs and pitched effectively into the seventh, a big game in his hometown after he left nearly
30 tickets for friends and family. In fact, the Cubs had a vocal band of rooters in the Shea Stadium crowd.
''This was really special,'' Marquis said.
also homered and
had a pair of RBI singles for the NL Central champions in the opener of a four-game series that could be a postseason preview.
New York would play Chicago (95-60) in the first round if the NL standings don't change.
But the Mets are having a hard time holding on - just like last September, when they squandered a seven-game cushion with
17 to play and missed the playoffs as Philadelphia charged past them to win the division title.
New York went 1-6 at Shea Stadium during the final week last year and got off to a foreboding start Monday night as they began
another season-ending, seven-game homestand.
''Last year is over with. It's done with. It was a failed opportunity. This year we have a golden opportunity,'' Wright said.
But once again, when the Mets desperately need wins they're having all kinds of trouble beating teams that don't.
''When you sign on with the Mets, you sign on with being a part of what happened last year,'' manager
said. ''We have to exorcise those demons at some point, there's no question. Some big ones, too.''
Wright hit a two-run homer and
had an RBI double for New York.
with two on for his 33rd save in 39 tries.
Marquis connected off Niese in a six-run fourth, snapping a 2-all tie with his fifth career homer and second this season.
also cracked a grand slam at Shea Stadium this year, on June 23 off
''I knew he was a good-hitting pitcher. That's a reason I threw breaking balls to him,'' Niese said. ''Obviously, I didn't
want to hang it. But I hung it and he put a good swing on it.''
The 1977 Cubs were the previous team to give up two grand slams to pitchers in one season. Montreal's
hit those long balls, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Marquis added an RBI groundout in the fifth to make it 8-2. The last Cubs pitcher to drive in five runs was
on Aug. 11, 1972, against the Mets at Wrigley Field.
''Anytime you have a chance to help yourself, why not?'' Marquis said. ''I consider myself an athlete and I try very hard
to do everything I can.''
hit the previous grand slam by a Cubs pitcher on July 20, 1998, at Atlanta off
The five RBIs were a career high for Marquis, who entered the game with a .205 career batting average and 35 RBIs - including
five this season.
Chicago improved to 3-0 against the Mets this year after sweeping a two-game series at Wrigley Field from April 21-22.
Notes: Mets CF
was shaken up after banging into the fence on a seventh-inning catch, but stayed in the game. His knee was swollen and sore,
yet Beltran expects to play Tuesday. ... New York RHP
, on the disabled list with a bone spur in his pitching shoulder, faced five batters in a simulated inning before the game.
The Mets hope he might be able give them an inning or two out of the bullpen during the last few days of the season. ... The
Cubs adjusted their pitching rotation to begin preparing for the playoffs. LHP
will start Tuesday night, bumping RHP
back to Thursday. ... Lee gave the Cubs five players with 20 homers.