CHICAGO (AP) — Joe Mather changed uniform numbers and did a pretty good impression of the player that inspired him to wear No. 21.
With reinforcements on the way in Chicago, more positive changes might be coming for the Cubs.
Mather homered and Travis Wood outpitched Johan Santana, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 6-1 victory over the New York Mets on Monday night to snap a four-game skid.
Mather swapped his No. 16 for 21 earlier in the day to honor Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.
“I had it in high school, it’s always been a favorite number of mine,” Mather said. “I always see the highlight of Roberto Clemente running around. I see the 21 on his back and I like that. I always wanted myself to look like that.”
He broke it in by hitting a two-run shot over the left-center field wall off Santana after a two-out walk to Geovany Soto to give Chicago a 2-0 lead in the fourth.
That was all the run support Wood (2-3) would need.
He struck out six and scattered five hits over seven scoreless innings to earn his second straight victory.
“The life on his fastball was about as good as we’ve all seen it,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He was beating guys that are good fastball hitters. He was beating them all night.”
The 25-year-old lefty has given up just eight runs in 31 2-3 innings this month. Four of those five starts came against former Cy Young Award winners.
“You always want to bring your A-game, but when you’re going against guys like Johan, you know you have to bring it,” said Wood, who beat Jake Peavy in his last start. He has also faced Justin Verlander and Barry Zito this month.
The Cubs scored four unearned runs in the seventh inning with help from three Mets errors, including three-base miscues by third baseman David Wright and right fielder Lucas Duda.
Chicago beat a left-hander for just the fourth time in 20 chances this year.
Santana (5-4), a two-time Cy Young winner, gave up five hits and two runs over six innings. He struck out six and walked three.
The Cubs threatened to add on in the sixth with runners on second and third and one out, but Santana struck out Soto looking, and after walking Mather, got Luis Valbuena to ground out to strand three.
“That’s the thing about baseball you always have to execute and do the little things,” Santana said. “The little things make the difference and that made the difference tonight. One little pitch and one little mistake changed the ballgame.”
Wright singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. Ike Davis homered with two outs in the ninth for the Mets.
The Wrigley Field wind played a big role in Chicago’s four-run seventh as a pair of popups each turned into three-base errors.
Pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas led off with a high pop in front of home plate. Catcher Mike Nickeas yielded to Wright, who fumbled the ball toward the backstop. Two batters later, Darwin Barney’s bloop to right field was dropped and booted away by a running Lucas Duda.
It got even uglier when Ronny Cedeno misplayed Starlin Castro’s grounder with the infield in, allowing Barney to score.
“It’s that kind of night. We don’t make those mistakes,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “Unfortunately it came back tonight to haunt us.”
Collins had expressed concern about his team’s energy when talking with reporters before the game. The team didn’t get into Chicago until 4 a.m. Monday morning after losing two of three to the Yankees in an exhausting weekend series.
New York mustered six hits and didn’t score until Davis’ home run off of James Russell with two outs in the ninth.
“We were a little flat,” Collins said. “They’re human beings and the adrenaline knock out for a while, and the fact that they got about probably five or six hours of sleep didn’t help either.”
Though they didn’t need it Monday, help is on the way for a scuffling Cubs offense, which had scored the fourth fewest runs in the majors coming into play Monday.
Sveum confirmed that highly touted prospect Anthony Rizzo would be promoted on Tuesday. The 22-year-old left-handed first baseman is hitting .345 with 23 homers and 62 RBIs in 69 games at Triple-A Iowa.
NOTES: The Mets designated OF Vinny Rottino for assignment and selected the contract of LHP Justin Hampson from Triple-A Buffalo. Hampson, 32, had not pitched in the majors since Sept. 28, 2008, with San Diego. He tossed a scoreless eighth. … Collins said RHP Bobby Parnell will be the team’s closer with Frank Francisco (left oblique strain) on the 15-day DL. … OF Jason Bay (concussion) rode a stationary bike on Monday. He is scheduled to begin baseball activities by the weekend according to Collins. … Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster (right lat tightness) threw off of flat ground Monday and it “went well,” according to Sveum. Dempster is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but Sveum said a July 6 return in New York is more likely. … RHP Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27 ERA) will take the hill for the Mets in the middle game of the series on Tuesday against RHP Randy Wells (1-2, 4.91).
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.