NEW YORK — Terry Collins is trying almost anything these days in a desperate attempt to help the New York Mets push across a run.
"You have to start thinking outside the box, because inside the box isn't working," the manager said.
Just look at all those zeros on the scoreboard.
Starlin Castro legged out a run-scoring infield single in the 11th inning, and the Chicago Cubs blanked the punchless Mets 2-0 Wednesday night for their second consecutive shutout at Citi Field.
The staggering Mets botched a suicide squeeze in the eighth and a double-play ball in the 11th during their latest flop at the plate. New York was held under two runs for the 20th time this season, tied for most in the majors, and has dropped nine of 13 overall.
"It's tough. Essentially it's centered around me," said No. 3 hitter Lucas Duda, who went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts. "I'm not doing my job, not getting the job done, not driving runs in, not moving runners over."
Bartolo Colon allowed only three hits in seven innings and retired 14 straight following a leadoff double in the third. But that was just the latest outstanding pitching performance to get wasted by the Mets, who have yielded six runs in the last 62 innings for a 0.87 ERA.
"Tomorrow we're going to flip-flop some guys somehow in the lineup," Collins said.
Jon Lester threw seven sharp innings and the Cubs overcame a major baserunning blunder to score twice in the 11th. Miguel Montero added an RBI single as Chicago won its eighth straight against the Mets, including the first six meetings this season.
Dexter Fowler drew a leadoff walk from Carlos Torres (2-4) in the 11th. Four batters later, Anthony Rizzo scored as Castro beat out a slow bouncer to third baseman Daniel Murphy.
Montero made it 2-0 with a single off Sean Gilmartin — all that prevented the Mets from losing 1-0 in consecutive home games for the second time since early May.
Jason Motte (6-1) fanned two in a hitless inning and Justin Grimm threw a called third strike past rookie Kevin Plawecki with runners at the corners for his first major league save, bringing a final round of boos from the crowd of 23,906.
"I don't know if anyone's pressing. I just think we're going through a bad stretch right now," Plawecki said.
With his own team slumping at the plate, colorful Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought in an illusionist from Las Vegas to entertain his team before Tuesday night's game. Chicago won 1-0 to stop a five-game slide, and Collins was asked Wednesday about Maddon's magic touch.
"I brought in a witch doctor to clean out the clubhouse, get all the bad spirits out of there," Collins said, drawing laughs. "We need to send a magician down to St. Lucie where all the rehab guys are."
Aside from mixing potions, Collins tried almost any trick he could think up Wednesday night. He let Colon swing away with a runner on second and none out, then called for a suicide squeeze in the eighth with two men in scoring position.
Pinch-hitter Darrell Ceciliani bunted through an outside pitch, and Ruben Tejada was hung out to dry.
"I figured with Ceciliani coming up there I'd give him a swing, then do something we haven't done all year. We just didn't execute it," Collins said.
Colon had received a decision in 27 consecutive outings, going 16-11 since July 23, 2014. That was the longest such streak in club history and the longest in the majors since he went 30 games in a row from 2004-05 with the Angels. This was Colon's first no-decision in 24 home starts with the Mets.
Mets LF Michael Cuddyer sat out with a sore left knee and might not play Thursday afternoon, either. ... Collins confirmed he spoke Tuesday with star 3B David Wright, sidelined indefinitely due to spinal stenosis. "He's very upbeat, extremely optimistic that he's going to start baseball activities next week," Collins said. "Keep in mind he hasn't done anything at all, so it's not like he's going to begin by taking live pitching. He's going to have to start over, but it's very positive that he's ready. All good signs."
Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (7-5, 2.94 ERA) tries to pitch Chicago to a season sweep of the Mets. He struck out a season-high 10 in eight innings of three-hit ball for a 6-1 victory over New York on May 12.
Mets: With All-Star selections set to be announced early next week, RHP Jacob deGrom (8-5, 2.15 ERA) looks to add to his impressive credentials. Last season's NL Rookie of the Year is 5-1 with a 1.23 ERA in his last eight outings. His 2.07 ERA in 30 starts since June 17, 2014, is the best mark in the majors during that span among pitchers with a minimum of 150 innings.