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Jacob deGrom’s worst start of the season was still strong by most pitcher’s standards.
But the Mets almost needed the near-perfection deGrom has established as the norm this season to come away with a win Saturday, before the Phillies bullpen did the trick instead.
After the Mets were gifted a fielding error and another meltdown by the Phillies’ bullpen in the ninth inning, Michael Conforto hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly for the 4-3 win at Citi Field, sending the season-high crowd of 29,205 into a frenzy.
It marked the fourth time in the first three games this series that the Phillies bullpen blew a one-run lead.
Pinch-hitter Travis Blankenhorn led off the bottom of the ninth against Hector Neris with a hard one-hopper to first base. Rhys Hoskins couldn’t pick it, and his error allowed Blankenhorn to reach safely. Billy McKinney pinch-hit next and drew a walk before Kevin Pillar, who had tied the game at two in the seventh inning with a solo home run off reliever Ranger Suarez, hit an infield single to load the bases.
Luis Guillorme then tied the game at three by drawing a walk on a close 3-2 pitch. Francisco Lindor followed by striking out before Conforto hit a fly ball to center field just deep enough to score McKinney from third.
The Phillies had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning off Edwin Diaz, who hit a batter with a pitch and walked another on a wild pitch to put runners on the corners with no outs. Nick Maton then hit a sacrifice fly to score Andrew McCutchen.
In the midst of an historic season, deGrom delivered his poorest start yet — though one most pitchers would settle for. The ace gave up two earned runs for the first time this season (in his 13th start) on three hits and one walk while striking out a season-low five over six innings. By the time deGrom left the game, with the Mets trailing 2-1, his ERA had risen from 0.50 to 0.69.
The Phillies, in the second inning, put an end to deGrom’s scoreless inning streak at 31. That tied his own career-high but fell short of R.A. Dickey’s franchise record of 32 ²/₃ innings. McCutchen led off with a line drive that ricocheted off deGrom’s backside and ended up in center field. He stole second base then came around to score on a single by Maton to make it 1-0.
The Mets immediately tied it up in the bottom of the inning. Dominic Smith and James McCann led off with back-to-back singles before Jose Peraza roped a double to left field, scoring Smith.
In the sixth inning, the Phillies loaded the bases against deGrom and came out of it with the lead, if not a crooked number. DeGrom limited the damage by allowing only a sacrifice fly by McCutchen, which put the Phillies ahead 2-1.
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