NEW YORK (AP) - The Mets' chances at another dramatic comeback kept looking better and better as the ninth inning went on. Right up until Lucas Duda's line drive wound up in Carlos Marmol's glove.
The erratic Cubs closer speared a liner that seemed ticketed for a tying hit and started a game-ending double play, giving Chicago an 8-7 win over New York on Friday night.
"There could have been a great ending to it, but it just wasn't meant to be," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Anthony Rizzo hit a three-run homer and Travis Wood won his fourth straight start while Mets star Johan Santana was tagged for a career high-tying 13 hits in only 4 2-3 innings.
A night after they got two runs with two outs in the ninth to beat Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon, the Mets scored three times off a wild Marmol.
But with runners at first and second, Lucas Duda hit a liner up the middle that Marmol caught and flipped to first for the final out.
"It's nice to be able pat yourself on the back a little bit, but it doesn't mean much," David Wright said. "We still lost the game. Didn't really do too much well today, besides the ninth inning. We obviously need to clean it up the next two games before we go into the break."
Reed Johnson led off the game with a homer, had four hits of Chicago's season-high 18 hits and scored three runs. Rizzo, the Cubs' most hyped prospect this season, singled in the eighth for the first four-hit game of his big league career.
Rizzo and Jeff Baker each homered in a five-run fifth inning that made it 7-2. The Cubs held on to win for the eighth time in 11 games and sent the Mets to their third loss in nine games.
Wood (4-3) allowed two earned runs and was removed after walking pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin to start the seventh.
Marmol had a shaky ninth. Entering with a four-run lead, he gave up a solo homer to Valdespin with one out in the ninth, then walked Ruben Tejada, pinch hitter Daniel Murphy and Wright to load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Ike Davis followed with a single, bringing up Duda.
"I thought we had a chance, certainly with Ike and Luke coming up. Anything could've happened right there," Collins said.
In the fifth, Santana fell awkwardly while trying to cover first base on an infield grounder by Johnson. Preparing to take the throw from first baseman Justin Turner, Santana reached out with his foot and appeared to jam it against the bag, then couldn't handle the toss with his bare hand and fell on his side. He took two warmup pitches and remained in the game, but gave up two homers and four more singles after that.
Santana (6-5) left after Luis Valbuena's RBI single. Valbuena was thrown out trying to take second and Wood was coming to the plate with two outs, but manager Terry Collins pulled him anyway. The left-hander had been getting balls hit hard all night.
"I wasn't able to command my pitches," Santana said. "They were aggressive and they hit the ball a couple of times in the right spot and were able to score. It was just one of those things."
Johnson's grounder to start the fifth was ruled a single, and Santana allowed another single to Darwin Barney before Rizzo's drive. One out later, Baker hit a solo shot and then Geovany Soto, Joe Mather and Valbuena singled.
The Mets went ahead 2-1 on Duda's solo homer in the second and Ronny Cedeno's RBI double in the third.
Mike Nickeas added a sacrifice fly in the sixth for an unearned run against Wood. Alfonso Soriano tacked on a run with a bases-loaded bloop single in the eighth to make it 8-3. Turner hit an RBI single in the eighth for his fourth hit of the game.
NOTES: Cubs manager Dale Sveum said RHP Ryan Dempster will start Sunday, and be limited to 70-80 pitches. The right-hander is on the DL because of a tight back muscle. ... Johnson's last leadoff homer also came against Santana - July 23, 2007, when Johnson played for the Blue Jays and Santana for the Twins. ... Collins said OF Jason Bay would take batting practice, run, and do "some defensive stuff" as he tries to come back from his second concussion. He also missed six weeks this season with a broken rib, and is hitting .187 with four HRs and six RBIs in 22 games this season. ... New York wore blue jerseys trimmed in orange with "Los Mets" on the front, a rare departure from the home whites this season. ... Duda's homer was his 12th of the season. ... Santana last allowed 13 hits on July 28, 2010 against St. Louis.