CHICAGO (AP) — Jon Lester pitched six innings, drove in two runs with a timely single off Noah Syndergaard and made two nice plays in the field, helping the Chicago Cubs beat the New York Mets 7-4 on Monday night for their sixth consecutive victory.

Anthony Rizzo homered and Daniel Murphy reached three more times from the leadoff spot as NL-leading Chicago moved a season-high 24 games over .500 by improving to 5-0 against New York this year. Murphy, who began his career with the Mets, is batting .407 (11 for 27) in six games since he was acquired in a trade with Washington.

Lester was in line for his 15th win before Kevin Plawecki hit a solo homer off Steve Cishek (4-1) in the seventh, tying it at 4 on a warm and windy night at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs went ahead to stay with two runs in the bottom half, including Ben Zobrist's tiebreaking double off Jerry Blevins (1-2).

New York loaded the bases in the ninth before Jesse Chavez struck out Amed Rosario and Austin Jackson for his third save of the season, helping the Cubs (77-53) increase their NL Central lead to 4 1/2 games over idle St. Louis.

Michael Conforto also homered for New York, which had won four of six. Syndergaard allowed four runs and nine hits, struck out six and walked three in six innings.

Lester was hit hard early on, including Conforto's massive leadoff drive in the second — a projected 472 feet to the bleachers above the batter's eye in center field. Rosario then made it 3-1 with a two-out RBI single, but the Mets lost out on a chance for more when Wilmer Flores popped up with the bases loaded.

The Cubs responded with three runs in the third, capped by Lester's big hit. Syndergaard issued an intentional walk to Kyle Schwarber with two outs, loading the bases, but Lester wrecked the Mets' strategy by dumping a two-run single into left-center.

Lester also helped himself in the field. The left-hander, who has had trouble throwing to bases, picked off Rosario after he reached on third baseman David Bote's error in the fifth. He also speared Jose Reyes' line drive for the final out of his outing.

WATCHING BAUTISTA

Mets outfielder Jose Bautista went 0 for 3 with a walk in what might have been his final game with the club. The veteran slugger was reportedly claimed off waivers by Philadelphia, and the sides were working on a trade.

Manager Mickey Callaway said he talked to at least one team official about the situation before the game.

"As long as he's on our team, we can play him," Callaway said. "We want to make sure we've got the best chance to win."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets: 3B David Wright, who hasn't appeared in the majors since May 2016 because of back and shoulder injuries, was off for the second straight day as he continues his rehab stint with Class A St. Lucie. "He just didn't feel comfortable playing three in a row at this point, so he's going get a couple days off and we're going to evaluate where he's at physically," Callaway said. ... 2B Jeff McNeil flied out as a pinch hitter in the seventh after leaving Sunday's 15-0 loss to Washington because of tightness in his right quadriceps. The rookie entered with an 11-game hit streak.

Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant (left shoulder inflammation) and RHP Tyler Chatwood (left hip tightness) each made their first rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa. Bryant went 0 for 3 and scored twice while serving as the designated hitter. Chatwood walked five in 4 1/3 innings against Omaha, yielding two runs and three hits.

UP NEXT

Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom (8-8, 1.71 ERA) and Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels (9-9, 3.82 ERA) square off Tuesday night in a matchup between two of baseball's hottest pitchers. DeGrom, one of the leading contenders for the NL Cy Young Award, has a 1.26 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings over five August starts. Hamels is 4-0 with a sparkling 0.79 ERA in five starts since he was acquired in a July 27 trade with Texas.

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Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

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