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Soriano scores two runs with a double

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have played in conditions worse than Wednesday night at different points this season, so when crew chief Dale Scott decided to stop play in the seventh inning with the Mets leading, 7-4, Mike Quade was upset.

"[Scott] said he had a forecast and was concerned about the rain that was coming, and I was, too, because I knew it wasn't going to stop," Quade said after the game was called following a 41-minute rain delay.

"I just wanted to keep playing," Quade said. "If we get that final out [in the seventh], stranger things have happened. It's wet out there, and you put an inning together and who knows? Maybe you get even or find a way to get a lead."

But the Cubs didn't get the chance and the Mets evened the series with the rain-shortened win. Carlos Beltran hit a two-run double to highlight a five-run second inning and lift New York to victory over the Cubs, who had trouble finding the strike zone.

The Mets had two on and two outs in the seventh when Scott called for the tarp. Quade got into an animated argument with the umpires, trying to convince them to play at least another half inning. The weather was bad, but not as bad as it was May 14 when they played host to the Giants in rain, wind and cold.

"Everybody is frustrated, and not the least of which is me, with the weather and what we've dealt with," Quade said. "If you're going to play in it, I thought we keep playing. Dale had a forecast and I had a forecast and I think we were coming at it from two different directions."

Plus, Quade had another motivation.

"I'm on the losing end so I want to keep playing," he said.

"He was probably more cognizant of the weather than me," Mets manager Terry Collins said, "and he knew if that tarp went on, this game was probably over."

The Cubs got off to a good start, erasing the Mets' one-run, first-inning lead with four runs in their half. They loaded the bases with two outs, and Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano each hit two-run doubles for a 4-1 lead. That was a short-lived advantage.

Things turned for the worse quickly, as the Cubs needed three pitchers to get through the first two innings. Casey Coleman didn't last long enough to get an at-bat. The right-hander entered the game having served up 40 hits and walked 25 over 34 1/3 innings. Unfortunately, he maintained that pace in the first when he walked Beltran with two outs and gave up back-to-back singles, including a RBI hit by Daniel Murphy.

"The first inning with Beltran, after two quick outs, I was telling myself, 'Hey, it's a great time to throw strikes,'" Coleman said, "and instead of just doing it, I thought too much about it and walked a guy, and then fell behind [Jason] Bay and he was able to get a hit and then they got another hit. I just need to bear down in that situation and throw strikes. If he gets a first-pitch hit, that's fine. Throwing too many pitches and walking a guy like that, it's not acceptable."

The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the second to set up Josh Thole's RBI single. Beltran then hit a two-run double into the left-center gap to tie the game and chase Coleman. Justin Berg took over but threw 12 straight balls, walking three batters and forcing in two runs to help the Mets open a 6-4 lead.

Berg was lifted for James Russell, who was cheered by the well-bundled crowd of 36,666 for a first-pitch strike to Jason Pridie. In the first two innings of the game, Cubs pitchers threw 63 pitches and only 29 for strikes. It's the first time they needed three pitchers to get through the first two innings of a game since June 29, 1989, when Paul Kilgus, Jeff Pico and Les Lancaster did so.

Coleman (2-4) took the loss, giving up six runs on seven hits and one walk over 1 1/3 innings, the shortest start of his career.

Last year, the right-hander showed improvement with each start. That hasn't happened this season.

"I'm trying to figure it out," Coleman said. "Late in the season last year, to start off the game, I'd be down in the zone, but down in the middle of the plate and establishing a strike zone, and then later in the game, I was able to work the corners and start to get calls outside.

"This year, it feels like if I'm over the plate, I'm up in the zone instead of down, and if I'm not over the plate, I'm trying to pick corners too early instead of establishing the strike zone," he said. "I need to be able to find a way to establish it down in the zone early -- over the plate is fine as long as it's down -- and as the game goes on, move out to the corners."

It is puzzling to Coleman's skipper as well.

"I was a little surprised at Casey," Quade said. "He made six, seven quality pitches in a row to get the first two hitters of the game, and then they scratch for a run. He got the ball up and didn't make pitches."

Dillon Gee (4-0) picked up the win and helped himself with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

The defensive highlight of the game came in the fifth when second baseman Darwin Barney chased Jose Reyes' popup and dove to grab it.

"I kept thinking about talking about him as an over-achiever," Quade said. "Maybe I just mis-evaluated him. Maybe he's not an overachiever, maybe he's just [darn] good. He's a good player and does a good job every night."

Barney doesn't feel he did anything special.

"I looked at Carlos [Pena, first baseman] and it was over his head, and he looked at me and I was already gone," Barney said. "I thought I was going to just camp under it. That wind was howling and fortunately I caught it. On the replay, it would've been fair. I'm just doing what I can."

The Cubs are weary from all the rain that has soaked the Midwest, but they've gotten used to it. Quade wasn't the only one bothered by Scott's decision.

"I was upset," Barney said. "I think a lot of us were upset. ... You knew the cell wasn't going to pass. It hits [Lake Michigan] and just stops -- it's unbelievable. We were really hoping to get another shot. That's his call and in that situation, it's a dictatorship -- is that the right word? -- and we can't do anything about it."

The conditions against the Giants earlier this month were much worse, but because the Cubs kept playing that night, the infield was drenched and unplayable the next day.

"You can't help this weather -- it's unbelievable," Barney said. "I've played in a lot of rain in my life, but this is different. You look around the country and we're fairly lucky to be in the sitaution we're in compared to those other places." Comments