NEW YORK — Yu Darvish pitched eight masterful innings, Javier Báez homered and drove in three runs, and the Chicago Cubs topped the New York Mets 5-2 Tuesday night to take the opener of a pivotal three-game series in the National League wild-card race.
Báez and Addison Russell each hit a two-run homer off Marcus Stroman. Both middle infielders finished with three hits, and Báez had an eventful game all over the field.
The flashy shortstop made a tough grab to thwart a potential New York rally, contributed three extra-base hits and a walk on a perfect night at the plate — and was thrown out twice being overaggressive on the bases.
Pete Alonso hit his 42nd home run for the Mets, becoming the first rookie in 81 years to break his team’s season record. J.D. Davis also went deep, with two outs in the ninth against Brandon Kintzler.
New York dropped its fourth straight, all at home, and fell three games behind Chicago for the second NL wild card. Philadelphia began the night one game back of the Cubs, who trailed first-place St. Louis by three games in the NL Central.
Darvish (5-6) allowed five hits, struck out seven and issued one walk — his first in six starts since his last one on July 23. Todd Frazier drew a free pass on four pitches leading off the fifth, ending a streak of 142 batters without a walk for the Japanese right-hander.
Stroman (7-12) was handed a 1-0 lead but gave it right back when Russell connected in the fifth. Kris Bryant doubled to start the sixth and Báez hit an opposite-field homer to right.
After a strong start, Stroman yielded four runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander, who grew up on Long Island about 50 miles from Citi Field, is 1-1 in five starts with the Mets since arriving from Toronto in a trade. He exited his previous outing with hamstring tightness, but showed no ill effects.
Alonso homered on the first pitch from Darvish in the fourth, a no-doubt drive to the opposite field that soared far beyond the fence in right.
The big first baseman raised his right arm and index finger as he began rounding the bases, then flashed a bright smile in the dugout before coming out for a curtain call. He set the Mets mark with 31 games to spare.
Todd Hundley in 1996 and Carlos Beltran a decade later hit 41 homers for New York.
In July, Alonso won the All-Star Home Run Derby in Cleveland.
Johnny Rizzo was the previous major league rookie to claim sole possession of his club’s home run record when he hit 23 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1938. Rizzo’s franchise mark was matched by Hall of Famer and former Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner in 1946.