Series: Game 3 of 3

Chi Cubs won 3-0

Game 1: Friday, April 23
NY Mets1Final
Chi Cubs3
Game 2: Saturday, April 24
NY Mets0Final
Chi Cubs3
Game 3: Sunday, April 25
NY Mets1Final
Chi Cubs4

Mets 1

(7-12, 3-6 away)

Cubs 4

(12-6, 7-3 home)

    2:20 PM ET, April 25, 2004

    Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 000000100 1 2 0
    CHC 00120010 - 4 10 0

    W: M. Clement (3-1)

    L: A. Leiter (1-1)

    S: J. Borowski (4)

    Cubs dispatch Mets for sixth straight win

    CHICAGO (AP) -- Matt Clement often gets overlooked in the Chicago Cubs' dazzling rotation.

    He doesn't have a blazing fastball like Mark Prior or Kerry Wood, or the pinpoint control of Greg Maddux. And Clement certainly doesn't display fiery emotions the way Carlos Zambrano does.

    But make no mistake, Clement is every bit as nasty as his better-known teammates. He took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and struck out a career-high 13 Sunday, leading the Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets.

    "I don't pitch for appreciation," Clement said. "I'm out there pitching for myself, my family and my team. Getting appreciation will come if we win as a team."

    And he and his teammates are doing their part, winning six straight. Starters have earned all six wins, and Chicago has outscored its opponents 39-5 during the streak.

    Clement (3-1) gave up two hits in eight innings, including a solo homer to Karim Garcia with one out in the seventh that broke up the no-hit bid.

    Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer, and Michael Barrett and Corey Patterson each drove in a run to back Clement.

    "I guess it's pretty hard to throw a no-hitter ... but that's not the important thing," Clement said. "We're trying to keep a winning streak here, not throw no-hitters. We're trying to build on something."

    Cubs manager Dusty Baker considered pulling Clement after he retired his first batter in the eighth inning. Clement has asthma, and Baker saw that he was wheezing. But Clement insisted he was fine.

    Two batters later, he fanned Kaz Matsui for his 13th strikeout. Joe Borowski then pitched the ninth for his fourth save in four chances.

    The Mets have lost eight of 10 and look like a team from the dead-ball era, scoring just 13 runs in their last nine games.

    Al Leiter (1-1) came in having given up one run in three starts. But the Cubs tagged him for three runs and seven hits in five innings, and he was lifted for pinch-hitter Danny Garcia in the sixth.

    "Normally, I'd let him go back out there. But we had a no-hitter going," Mets manager Art Howe said. "We had to try to get some offense going."

    But even with the wind gusting out, the Mets weren't doing anything against Clement. He retired his first six batters -- the last four on swinging strikeouts -- before walking Todd Zeile to start the third. After Ricky Gutierrez reached on a fielder's choice, Clement retired his next 10 hitters, striking out the side in the fifth inning.

    "What he did today is what he's capable of doing in every start," Barrett said. "That's just how good his stuff is."

    Barrett said he knew from the first batter that Clement was going to have a good day, and fans seemed to know it, too. From the third inning on, the crowd of 38,635 was cheering his every pitch.

    "It was pretty cool out there," Clement said. "These fans are passionate. If the score is 6-5, they would have been doing the same thing. You've got to love the support they give you and give to this team and what they mean to this team."

    But the Mets spoiled the fun in the seventh. Mike Piazza led off the inning, and he worked Clement hard. He hit a grounder down the third-base line that would have been a hit, but it went foul near the bag.

    Finally, on the eighth pitch, Piazza went down swinging. It was Clement's 12th strikeout, matching his previous career high.

    "When you get to that point in the game, you don't want to let Piazza break it up," Clement said. "Not that I was sitting there worrying about who was going to break it up or what was going to happen. But I probably put a little more energy than I needed to into the Piazza at-bat."

    And Garcia took advantage of it. He'd struck out and popped up in his first two at-bats, and was shaken up when he hit the padded brick wall chasing Alex Gonzalez's fly in the fourth.

    But Garcia sent Clement's 1-0 pitch over the center-field wall and into the shrubbery.

    "It was supposed to be a four-seamer," Clement said. "It came back a little over the plate and he did what you're supposed to do with a pitch that comes back over the plate: He crushed it."

    Fans groaned, then gave Clement a warm ovation as Garcia circled the bases.

    "You never want to get no-hit," Garcia said. "The homer didn't really mean anything to us because we ended up losing."

    Eric Valent added a single off Clement, but the right-hander ended the inning with Todd Zeile's groundout. As he walked back to the dugout, fans gave Clement a standing ovation, with many raising their arms and bowing.

    "We wanted him to get that no-hitter to add to the excitement that's already here," Baker said. "But he got eight innings, a couple hits and one run. It doesn't get much better than that."

    Game notes

    The last time Cubs starters won six straight was June 1-7, 1983. ... The last Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Milt Pappas against San Diego on Sept. 2, 1972. ... Mets OF Shane Spencer didn't start because of a tight hamstring, but he pinch-hit in the eighth inning.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press