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Mets manage only four hits, lose to Cubs on Starlin Castro's homer in ninth

The Mets' Eric Campbell walks back to the

The Mets' Eric Campbell walks back to the dugout after he struck out swinging against the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning of a game at Citi Field on Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Starlin Castro didn't even let the Mets enjoy the moment for more than a moment.

Minutes after Curtis Granderson tied the score with a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning, Castro led off the ninth with a first-pitch home run against Jenrry Mejia to give the Cubs the lead for good in a 2-1 win at Citi Field on Sunday.

Castro is a young shortstop who may or may not be available via trade in the offseason. The Mets may or may not covet him in such a trade.

But for now, Castro is a Cub. He told reporters Friday he doesn't want to be dealt away from the Friendly Confines.

Citi Field is no Wrigley Field, but Castro found the right spot in the big ballpark in the ninth. Chicago's cleanup hitter lashed Mejia's 94-mph fastball just over the wall in the rightfield corner for his 13th home run.

"I'm sure Castro was looking to get something to jerk," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He hits it right down the rightfield line. Once in a while, you just . . . it's the game."

Said Mejia: "I threw outside, a little two-seamer, and he got it. He made the swing and he got me."

Mejia (5-6), the Mets' closer, was in the game because of Granderson's clutch single in the eighth. Granderson snapped an 0-for-17 streak with the hit off reliever Pedro Strop to drive in pinch runner Eric Young Jr. from second.

The Mets had four hits against Jake Arrieta, Strop (2-4) and Hector Rondon (17th save). It was the fourth straight game in which the Mets had four or fewer hits. They won two of them, including Saturday's 7-3 victory.

Asked what he's seen from his offense lately, Collins said: "Not much. We're not swinging very good."

Seven runs on four hits doesn't happen every day. And with the lineup the Mets sent out Sunday, an offensive explosion didn't seem likely.

David Wright had to sit after getting hit with a pitch in the back of his already painful left shoulder Saturday. He will "possibly" miss Monday's game, according to Collins. Wright was unavailable for comment.

Plus, Travis d'Arnaud needed a breather after catching five days in a row and getting nailed in the elbow with a backswing Friday. Wilmer Flores had started 10 straight games at shortstop and Collins didn't want Ruben Tejada to atrophy completely on the bench.

So the bottom five in the order were Eric Campbell, Matt den Dekker, Anthony Recker, Tejada and pitcher Rafael Montero, who had perhaps his best start as a major-leaguer.

Montero allowed one run, five hits and two walks in 7 1/3 innings, striking out six. He lowered his ERA from 6.12 to 5.01.

The rookie righthander probably will be heading back to Triple-A Las Vegas once Jacob deGrom is activated from the 15-day disabled list Saturday to face the Dodgers. If that happens, Montero will leave having made a good last impression on Collins.

"You saw how effective his secondary stuff is," Collins said. "We had heard his changeup was outstanding and he showed it. I thought he pitched an outstanding game. It was really good for him to have a game up here where he knows he can be successful."

It was Montero's best big-league outing since he struck out 10 and gave up one run in six innings against Arizona on May 25.

Montero's only real mistake was walking Cubs rookie Javier Baez to lead off the fourth. It was the free-swinging Baez's first career walk after 21 strikeouts. Baez later scored the game's first run on Luis Valbuena's two-out RBI single.

Arrieta allowed two hits and walked two in seven shutout innings, striking out nine.

Collins faces at least one more day without Wright and wants to give Daniel Murphy (0-for-4, two strikeouts) a day off. He said he thought Murphy looked "tired."

His bat certainly did.

"The way Arrieta threw," Murphy said, "maybe he made me look tired."

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