Luis Severino dominates, Mets hang on after Edwin Diaz ejection to win Cubs series

CHICAGO — With the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs locked in a tight wild-card battle, Sunday night’s series finale felt bigger than a typical game in June usually would.

It was a star-studded affair at Wrigley Field, with celebrities like Bill Murray and Dave Matthews coming out to celebrate the unveiling of Ryne Sandberg‘s statue. A packed crowd of nearly 40,000 was eager to see the Cubs pick up where they left off in the second game of the series, when they crushed the Mets by 10 runs.

Instead, Cubs fans were left disappointed. The Mets won 5-2 to take the series, their fourth in a row and 12th of the season. They finished the road trip 4-2 and have won 13 of their last 17 games.

However, uncertainty comes with this win as closer Edwin Diaz was ejected in the ninth inning by third base umpire Vic Carapazza during his routine check for foreign substances. Diaz has been a huge key to the Mets’ recent resurgence and they now risk losing the right-hander for 10 games, with a sticky stuff ejection carrying an automatic suspension.

Right-hander Drew Smith started the ninth in place of Diaz, getting the first two outs before giving up a single to Dansby Swanson. Left-hander Jake Diekman came in for the one-out save, striking out Patrick Wisdom on three pitches (three saves).

Francisco Lindor hit his 13th home run of the season, Brandon Nimmo hit his 11th and Mark Vientos practically hit one out to Wisconsin for his seventh of the year. Luis Severino (5-2) shut out the Cubs out over six innings, allowing three hits and striking out 10.

The Mets came back after Dedniel Nuñez gave up a two-run homer to Christopher Morel in the seventh. The two-run blast cut the lead in half, but Vientos hit a 451-foot bomb off Tyson Miller in the next inning.

Vientos snapped an 0 for 14 skid with the longest homer of his career, hitting the ball into the center field bleachers underneath the old scoreboard.

With the Mets (37-39) up 4-0 in the sixth, Severino put two on with none out. He rung up Michael Busch before facing Cody Bellinger. The outfielder fouled off the first two pitches to go 0-2 before Severino threw him a changeup, but Bellinger didn’t bite.

At 1-2, Bellinger fouled off the next three pitches and then got a fastball outside of the zone to work the count full. He fouled off four more, with the Wrigley Field faithful giving him a standing ovation at pitch No. 11.

Bellinger swung on pitch No. 12 and missed. Severino won the battle, then quickly retired Seiya Suzuki for the third out.

Lindor and Nimmo went back-to-back off right-hander Javier Assad in the third with opposite-field home runs to left field. Harrison Bader hit a one-out double to bring up Lindor, who battled Assad for eight pitches before finally connecting on a full-count cutter. Nimmo then took Assad deep for his fourth homer in his last six games, extending his hitting streak to nine games.

The Mets pushed a fourth run across in the fifth inning, loading the bases on Assad before the Cubs went to the bullpen for right-hander Keegan Thompson. A ground ball by J.D. Martinez scored Bader to make it 4-0.

Assad was charged with all four runs, giving up seven hits, walking one and striking out none over 4 1/3 innings.

The win gives the Mets the tiebreaker over the Cubs in the NL Wild Card standings. They may not need it, but with 10 teams vying for three spots, every advantage counts.