CHICAGO (Reuters) - The New York Mets snapped a 2-2 tie on a wild-pitch strikeout on the way to beating the Chicago Cubs 5-2 on Tuesday, putting them one win away from the World Series.
The victory, keyed by the strong pitching of Jacob deGrom and another home run by Daniel Murphy, gave New York a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
That margin has been overcome only once in Major League Baseball - by the Red Sox over the Yankees in 2004.
The do-or-die Game Four for the Cubs will be played in Chicago on Wednesday. One more loss and their quest to end a 70-year absence from the World Series will end.
“The Mets have just pitched exceptionally well,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “You’ve got to give them credit.”
DeGrom yielded four hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts and a walk, and retired his last 11 batters. Relievers Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia went the last two innings as rain began to fall in Chicago.
Home runs set the tone at Wrigley Field, with Murphy improving his remarkable stats sheet with a third-inning blast to center. It was his record-tying fifth postseason game in a row with a homer.
“I’ve watched a lot of baseball over the years and I don’t think I’ve seen anybody put on this kind of a show on this stage like he has done so far,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of Murphy, who hit a career-high 14 homers this season.
“The question is, who is this guy? He’s been unbelievable. Hopefully he just keeps it up for a few more games.”
‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’
Chicago rookies Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber also homered as the Cubs twice battled back from a run down to make it 2-2 through four innings. For Schwarber, it was his fifth homer of the playoffs.
After Soler’s home run in the fourth, deGrom turned unhittable as he set down 11 Cubs in a row.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks went four innings before manager Maddon went to his bullpen.
Starting in the sixth, the Mets took advantage of some breaks.
Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who earlier had stolen third base, dashed home when Michael Conforto swung at and missed a breaking ball in the dirt from reliever Trevor Cahill in the sixth inning with two out.
But the ball bounced past Cubs catcher Miguel Montero, leaving both New York players safe.
“I went down to block it but unfortunately, I didn‘t,” Montero said. “It really hurts. I blocked pitches like that many, many times and I didn’t block that one.”
The Mets added two more runs in the seventh off Travis Wood, aided by loose fielding that led to an infield hit when Kris Bryant had trouble taking the ball from his mitt, and a single for Cespedes when his line shot glanced off leftfielder Schwarber’s glove.
“From my perspective, business as usual tomorrow,” said Cubs manager Maddon. “Come out ready to play and take it from there.”
Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Peter Rutherford