CHICAGO (AP) — Albert Almora Jr. spent most of the night watching from the dugout. Once he entered the game, he sure did make an impact.
Almora homered and drove in a career-high six runs after coming off the bench in the seventh inning, and the Chicago Cubs routed the New York Mets 17-5 on Wednesday.
Javier Baez also went deep and had four hits for the Cubs, who matched a season high for runs after pouring on 12 over their final three at-bats. They have outscored the Mets 25-8 the past two games.
It’s just what the NL Central leaders needed after managing only three runs in a weekend sweep by Milwaukee that tightened the division race. Chicago remained 2 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers and moved three up on St. Louis.
“As a competitor, this is what we want to be in,” Almora said. “Last year, I’m not complaining. … But every game means something. I feel like from now until the end of the season it’s a playoff game every game.”
It sure hasn’t been easy for the Cubs coming off a 103-win season that saw them win the division by 17 1/2 games and capture their first World Series crown since 1908. They looked as though they were just about ready to put away the Central race before Milwaukee came to town.
For much of the night, this wasn’t exactly an easy game. But by the end, the score sure was lopsided.
Shaky early on, Jon Lester (11-7) regrouped to throw six solid innings and win his third straight start. The left-hander gave up two runs and six hits.
Mets starter Matt Harvey (5-5) lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his third start back from a right…
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