CHICAGO (AP) - Dillon Gee had trouble getting a grip. His problems, though, hardly compared to those of Cubs reliever Justin Berg.
Gee recovered from a wild start while Berg never found the strike zone on a raw, messy Wednesday night as the New York Mets beat Chicago 7-4 in a rain-shortened game.
The game was called with two outs in the top of the seventh inning after a 41-minute delay. It was 47 degrees for the first pitch with a fierce northern wind blowing in from Lake Michigan, and a fog set in around Wrigley Field and kept growing thicker.
``I don't remember a spring where it's been this bad,' Mets manager Terry Collins said.
It was particularly bad for Berg, who took over for Casey Coleman (2-4) during the Mets' five-run second inning. Berg came in with runners on second and third and threw 12 pitches - all balls. His three walks forced home two runs.
``You got to get people out and you got to throw strikes,' Cubs manager Mike Quade said. ``Unfortunately, they weren't able to do either.'
``And Bergie has to get on the glove, that's all,' he said. ``You can't walk people.'
Gee (4-0) walked two while allowing four runs in the first, but bounced back to throw five scoreless innings and retire 16 of the last 18 batters he faced.
``I had no feel out there in the first inning,' Gee said. ``I don't know if I was really prepared for the game, or trying to get adjusted to the weather. All the credit goes to the rest of the team for digging me out of that hole.'
Carlos Beltran doubled, tripled, scored twice and drove in two more for the Mets. Beltran and Daniel Murphy hit two-run doubles in the big second off Coleman and Berg. The Mets, who had lost three straight, go into Thursday's series finale with a chance to break even on their six-game road trip.
Both starters were coming off spotless outings, but faltered in the long early innings, bad news for teams racing against storms moving into the Chicago area.
Quade didn't like the stoppage in the seventh, especially with his team trailing. He charged onto the field and argued with the umpires for a couple of minutes as the field was being covered in front of him.
``I wish we'd have kept playing,' Quade said. ``If we get that final out, stranger things have happened. It's wet out there, you put an inning together and all of a sudden maybe you get even, or find a way to get a lead.'
After throwing 7 2-3 scoreless innings of two-hit ball against Washington his last time out, Gee put himself in trouble in the first and gave up two-run doubles to Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano.
``It was probably difficult to grip the ball early, to get a good grip on it,' Collins said. ``One of the things that is (Gee's) trademark is command. When his command is off, there's got to be something to it. I think the conditions early in the game were probably pretty difficult for him.'
If Coleman's 5 2-3 shutout innings at Florida last Saturday marked one of his best career outings, this was one of his worst.
Jason Pridie and Ruben Tejada singled to open the second and Jose Reyes and Josh Thole hit one-out singles.
Beltran, whose .398 career average at Wrigley entering the game was the highest of all active players, hit a tying double - Thole would have scored on the hit, too, but fell down rounding third and had to scramble back to the bag.
``The guy at home was telling me to get down, I just slid too early, so I had to go back to third,' Thole joked.
Beltran's hit chased Coleman, who was charged with six runs, seven hits and a walk in 1 1-3 innings.
Berg relieved and soon was done. James Russell escaped the inning by striking out the next two batters, meaning that Berg wasn't actually charged with any of the Mets' runs in the inning, during which New York turned a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead.
While Coleman wasn't around to recover from his struggles, Gee settled down after his early problems. He threw six innings, allowing four runs and four hits. Gee even drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
The weather finally caught up with the teams in the top of the seventh when a steady rain that began in the sixth intensified. The umpires called for the tarps with two Mets on base, two outs and Thole at the plate.
Quade wasn't too happy.
``If you're going to play in it, I thought you keep playing,' he said. ``(Crew chief) Dale (Scott) had a forecast and I had a forecast. I think we were coming at it from two different directions.
``I figure when they put the tarp on, we'll see you tomorrow at 1:20. Maybe he was trying to save the field if the rain delay went for an hour or two and we could come back.'
NOTES: Mets 3B David Wright is scheduled to meet with a physical therapist in New York on Wednesday to discuss next step in his rehab from a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright hasn't played since May 15. ... Mets LF Jason Bay was back in lineup after leaving Tuesday's game because of tightness in his right calf. ... According to STATS LLC, this marked the first time the Cubs needed three pitchers (Coleman, Berg and Russell) to make it through the first two innings of a game since June 29, 1989, vs. San Francisco (Paul Kilgus, Jeff Pico and Les Lancaster).
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved