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Javy Baez hits 100th career home run in huge moment to give Cubs a 5-3 victory against Mets

Baez joined Ernie Banks (512 homers) and Shawon Dunston (107) as the only Cubs shortstops (minimum of 50 games defensively) to hit at least 100 homers.

Javy Baez rounds the bases after his homer in the eighth.
 Chicago Cubs’ Javy Baez (9) rounds the bases after he hit a three-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Chicago   
Matt Marton/AP

Javy Baez saved the weekend and savored the moment.

As his go-ahead, three-run home run — the 100th homer of his career — sailed toward the right-field bleachers, Baez gripped his bat and enjoyed the view for an extra second. Or two. Or three.

Baez eventually jogged around the bases as fans and teammates celebrated his latest magic trick.

‘‘We’ve seen it before, right?’’ manager Joe Maddon said with a smile.

The Cubs held on for a 5-3 victory Sunday against the Mets to salvage a split in the four-game series. They were in danger of dropping their third consecutive game at home before Baez came through with two on and one out in the eighth inning.

Baez fell behind 0-2 against Mets reliever Seth Lugo. He protected the plate — and then some — as he ripped the next pitch an estimated 374 feet to the opposite field.

Teammates mobbed Baez when he returned to the dugout, ripping his jersey, and the crowd demanded a curtain call.

‘‘I was just really excited,’’ Baez said. ‘‘Everybody [was] jumping around and grabbing me. It was really fun. I was really tired after that.’’

It was Baez’s 19th homer of the season, which is tied for the team lead with Anthony Rizzo, and gave him 100 homers in 602 career games. He joined Ernie Banks (512 homers) and Shawon Dunston (107) as the only Cubs shortstops (minimum of 50 games defensively) to hit at least 100 homers.

Baez, 26, put the milestone in perspective.

‘‘I feel great,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s a lot of homers for me. I actually didn’t know until I got to the dugout and everybody started congratulating me. It’s really exciting. I thought it was going to be a little bit later in my career. I’m really happy that I got to it, and hopefully I can keep it going.’’

The Cubs also hope to build on the feel-good finish. They will enter a four-game series against the Braves with a relatively fresh bullpen, thanks to a quality start by left-hander Cole Hamels, who held the Mets to three runs in seven innings. Steve Cishek (2-4) pitched a scoreless eighth to get the victory, and Pedro Strop finished things off for his ninth save.

It was the fourth time this season the Cubs pulled out a victory after trailing going into the eighth.

‘‘That’s just the momentum that we need to take forth, especially with the series that’s coming up,’’ Hamels said.

Maddon said he wants to find a rest day for Baez soon, but it will be tough to keep him out of the lineup after his latest heroics.

Baez struck out in his first two at-bats but quickly got over his frustrations and refocused. He singled in the sixth and jumped on a hanging pitch from Lugo for the decisive homer. His nine game-winning RBI lead the team.

‘‘What you perceive to be a big moment or not a big moment, he plays it the same way,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘His heart doesn’t race any faster. I think the difference may be a little bit more focus. I would say it’s more mental than it is physical. He gets really locked in.

‘‘But the point is, he plays the same game all the time. I don’t see any difference in his game. If it’s flamboyant or however you want to describe it, he’s just out there being himself.’’

For that, the Cubs are grateful.

‘‘It’s pretty spectacular being his teammate,’’ Hamels said.

‘‘This guy can do it all,’’ Strop said.

Baez said anyone can be the hero on any day.

‘‘We don’t give up,’’ he said. ‘‘We keep fighting until the last out.’’