NEW YORK — Darwin Barney's soft single fell into right field and Scott Feldman took off running, then rounded second and — wait, was he trying for third?
"I didn't know what I was doing, actually," the Cubs pitcher said. "I kind of just decided to go I guess."
Like just about everything else Feldman did against the Mets on Saturday it worked out. Feldman allowed two hits in seven innings and the Cubs beat the Mets 5-2.
Feldman hit a two-run single in the fourth, setting up his slow-motion scamper on the bases. He rounded second and headed for third, drawing a throw that seemed as if it had a chance to get him.
Of course, it didn't. He slid in — head first — and beat the throw and David Wright's tag.
"Don't want to make the third out at third, so I just tried to do everything I could to just sneak my hand in there," Feldman said.
Said Wright: "I think I got him pretty good on the arm with my spike."
Feldman (6-5) got it done on the mound, too. He struck out six and Starlin Castro hit a two-run double to left in the Cubs' three-run eighth and Kevin Gregg got the last three outs for his ninth straight save.
The Cubs stranded 10 runners in the first seven innings before breaking it open in the eighth. Scott Rice allowed a hit and a walk around a sacrifice, then Brandon Lyon came on and gave up a single to load the bases before walking Cody Ransom to force in a run. Castro then had his hit, which could have scored three runs if it hadn't bounced over the wall.
"I think we're just getting better swings in fastball counts, in hitters counts," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "We're taking advantage of situations now that we haven't for a long piece of the season."
Chicago beat the Mets for the second day in a row, after losing five of seven before getting to Queens.
The Mets got a run back in the bottom of the eighth on Jordany Valdespin's single off Carlos Villanueva, but Wright struck out with runners on second and third and fans streamed for the exits.
"In the eighth inning, there was silence in the dugout and the feeling was like 'Here we go again," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Losing is as big of a habit as winning."
Jonathon Niese (3-6) left with two outs in the fifth inning and a man on second. He finished having allowed two runs, six hits and four walks with five strikeouts. He is 0-2 in his past four starts.
"Niese battled without having his best stuff," Collins said. "He battled into the sixth inning and didn't want to come out and that's what I want. Guys who don't want to come out of the game."
Before his double bounced over the wall, Castro had stranded five runners and struck out three times, including with the bases loaded to end the fourth.
In the fourth inning, Wright followed Daniel Murphy's leadoff double with a double of his own to cut the lead to 2-1, but he was stranded at second. The Mets hit three long fly balls in the sixth, but all were caught pretty much right at the wall.
"It seemed like they were running down balls all day in the outfield for me," Feldman said.
Feldman has bounced back nicely after a rough final season in Texas, where he spent the first eight seasons of his career. He only has one outing shorter than six innings this year after a rocky April, and has become a fixture in the Cubs' rotation. Which explains why Sveum was cringing as he saw the big right-hander come around second base.
"'Why are you going to third? You're a starting pitcher and you have a bad knee,' that's what I was thinking as he was running to third," Sveum said.
He pointed out later that it was for the best that Feldman, who has an old knee injury, slid head first. Feldman had something else on his mind later — when was the last time he did a headfirst slide?
"Ha! Man, probably college," Feldman said. "Still had pretty good form though, right?"
NOTES: Mets GM Sandy Alderson told season ticket holders Saturday morning that "over the next six months or so, we will be in a position make some significant acquisitions, whether it's through free agency or a trade. ... The Mets called up right-hander Carlos Torres from Las Vegas and optioned right-hander Greg Burke to the Triple-A team. To make room on the 40-man roster, the club designated right-hander Collin McHugh for assignment. Torres was 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA in 12 starts for Las Vegas. ... Ransom had two singles, two walks and reached on an error his first five times up before striking out in the ninth. ... The Cubs were 3 for 18 with runners in scoring position. ... Wright tied his career best by reaching in nine straight plate appearances, but his deep drive to left in the sixth inning was caught at the wall. ... Mets 2B Valdespin let Ransom move up a base in the first when he misfired while attempting to return the ball to Niese after Ransom's single. He was charged with an error.