Jon Lester dominated for seven innings and Javier Baez stole home to break a scoreless tie as the Chicago Cubs blanked the New York Mets 2-0 Sunday, completing a four-game sweep and winning for the seventh time in eight games.
The Mets have lost four straight and nine of 11, dropping three games under .500 for the first time this season. They scored just six runs in this series.
Both starting pitchers matched zeroes until the seventh, when the Cubs scored twice thanks to some very aggressive baserunning.
Baez and Willson Contreras led off with back-to-back singles, putting runners at the corners. With Ian Happ at the plate, Chicago pulled off a double steal.
Mets starter Steven Matz (2-4) was unaware that Baez was breaking for the plate, stepping off and throwing to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in an attempt to pick off Contreras instead.
Gonzalez fired home but it was too late to catch the sliding Baez, who scored easily while Contreras advanced to second.
With runners on the corners again later in the inning, Ben Zobrist hit a popup to shallow right field. Second baseman Luis Guillorme made an awkward stretching catch and was not in position to make a clean throw home, allowing Contreras to score and giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead on an unlikely sacrifice fly.
Lester (6-2) walked the first two batters of the game but proceeded to strike out the side. The four-time All-Star then retired 14 in a row until two outs in the fifth inning, when shortstop Addison Russell misplayed a two-out grounder off the bat of the speedy Amed Rosario into an error.
Playing short-handed due to multiple injuries, the Mets were forced to slot five lefties into the starting lineup against a tough southpaw.
Lester faced a challenge in the sixth inning. With one out, Jose Bautista was hit on the foot with a pitch. After Jay Bruce flied out, cleanup hitter Kevin Plawecki's sharp grounder to the left side grazed Baez's glove but continued on into left field for New York's first hit of the game.
Michael Conforto walked to load the bases, but Lester coaxed a weak grounder from Gonzalez to end the threat.
Lester allowed just two hits, walking three and striking out seven.
Brian Duensing pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save in two chances.
Chicago begins a six-game homestand Tuesday against the Phillies, sending RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.19 ERA) to the hill in the series opener against RHP Zach Eflin (1-2, 4.50 ERA).