Bryant, Quintana help Cubs beat Mets

Opening Day starter Jon Lester pitches to Giancarlo Stanton at Marlins Park in June

Despite the Cubs being selected to win the NL Central by nearly every pundit, they surprisingly have not pulled away in the division race.They enter Tuesday's game just two games up on the Cardinals and 2 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers.

A pursuit of a third consecutive playoff berth is proving tougher than anticipated for the Chicago Cubs.

Travis Taijeron's run-scoring grounder put the Mets in front in the fourth, but the Cubs went ahead to stay with four runs in the bottom of the inning.

-Long home stand: The Mets will end the first half of 2018 with a season-long nine-game home stand at Citi Field.

The Mets are 6-2 in their last 8 during game 2 of a series, 6-20 in their last 26 vs. a team with a winning record and 5-1 in their last 6 road games.

Quintana improved to 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in his last three starts.

It was no secret what the game plan was for the for the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night as they opened a three-game series with the New York Mets.

Even so, perpetually upbeat manager Joe Maddon is finding a reason to relish the Cubs' task instead of dreading it. "Enjoy this whole thing. But I told them: Take the positives out of everything to this point - where we are coming from after the greatest championship in sports history - and in the position to win the division again". "That's something you never want to take for granted".

"Obviously, the mistake to Bryant killed him", Mets manager Terry Collins said about Gsellman. The Mets-Cubs game can be viewed on SNY in NY and CSN Chicago.

Interleague play for the Cubs features games against the American League Central, which means two series of three games each against the White Sox: May 11 to 13 at Wrigley Field and September 21 to 23 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Only 10 players on New York's active roster were on the team in 2015.

"I was actually talking with a couple of the guys about that", Spieth said. "I'll look down the bench, there'll be a whole new cast of characters".

For Wednesday's matchup with the Cubs' Jon Lester, Reynolds will step in for Dominic Smith, who went 0-for-4 against lefty Jose Quintana last night. They are a team that has posted double-digit run performances six times in the last month, but the Cubs have also allowed 10 or more runs four times as well. At Pittsburgh on Thursday, the left-hander looked to be almost back in form, tossing six innings and allowing one run and five hits.

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