With rare early lead, Mets’ deGrom shines in 4-0 win vs SD

NEW YORK (AP) — No big league pitcher has been better in the sun than Mets ace Jacob deGrom.

Given a rare bit of first-inning run support, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner shined as expected.

DeGrom pitched seven innings of four-hit ball after teammates gifted him an unprecedented early lead and New York beat the San Diego Padres 4-0 Thursday.

Todd Frazier hit a two-run double as New York built a four-run lead in its first turn against Eric Lauer, the most runs the Mets have scored in the first inning during deGrom’s 160 starts.

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“That was nice,” deGrom said. “But every time I go out there I try to think of it as a 0-0 baseball game.”

DeGrom (6-7) struck out nine and walked one on 105 pitches in the matinee, extending his scoreless streak to 17 innings. The ace from the Sunshine State has a 1.86 ERA in 52 day games, best in the majors since at least 1913 for pitchers with at least 200 innings.

Mets closer Edwin Díaz entered for the ninth in a non-save situation and was pulled after Manny Machado drilled a base hit off his left big toe. Díaz limped off the field with a trainer and was replaced by Luis Avilán. X-rays were negative.

The Padres have lost nine of 12, a slump that likely has dropped them out the crowded wild card race. Lauer (5-8) was pulled after 2 1/3 innings with four runs allowed on six hits and three walks.

“Big hole for us,” San Diego manager Andy Green said. “Rarely does a team come back spotting that guy four runs.”

DeGrom danced around bats with a slider averaging 91.8 mph. He threw the pitch 58 times, eight more than his previous career high in a 10-strikeout game against Philadelphia on July 5. This was the first time deGrom went slider for more than half of his pitches.

Manager Mickey Callaway called it “probably the best” slider in baseball.

“Just velo, break, the way it plays off of his fastball,” Callaway said. “It looks exactly the same. He tunnels his pitches great. It’s a devastating weapon when he’s got it going on.”

DeGrom got 12 whiffs with the breaking pitch, including one by Francisco Mejía in the second that wobbled the rookie, buckled his left ankle and nearly caused him to fall over.

“That was probably my best slider of the day,” said a smiling deGrom.

New York gave deGrom a little help on defense, too. Shortstop Amed Rosario — tied for worst among shortstops with minus-15 defensive runs saved, per FanGraphs — made two flashy plays, including a diving stop on Luis Urías’ grounder to end the seventh.

“Rosie’s been fantastic,” Callaway said, adding “There’s a lot of improvement there.”

Frazier had two hits and two walks to bust out of a 1-for-18 slump. The veteran spent an hour Wednesday night watching tape of himself from earlier in his career and was in the batting cage at 7 a.m.

“Had to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

Four Padres relievers combined for 6 2/3 scoreless innings after the bullpen pitched five scoreless frames to close out a 7-2 win Wednesday night.

Machado had three hits and Mejía had two, accounting for all five of San Diego’s hits.

BACK AT IT

About 12 hours after making several miscues in left field, the Mets’ Dominic Smith was back in the outfield Thursday morning fielding line drives and grounders. A natural first baseman, Smith has been trying to learn the outfield on the fly as New York attempts to get him and All-Star first baseman Pete Alonso in the lineup. He was held out of the lineup with the left-handed Lauer on the mound.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star Jeff McNeil was held out of the lineup to rest. He pinch hit for deGrom in the seventh and grounded out.

UP NEXT

Padres: LHP Joey Lucchesi (7-5, 4.27) starts the opener of a three-game home series against San Francisco. He’ll oppose RHP Jeff Samardzija (7-8, 4.08). Lucchesi is from the Bay Area and is 2-2 with a 4.44 ERA against the Giants in his career.

Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (6-6, 4.69) is set to pitch against the Pirates, his first start since July 7 after dealing with a shoulder impingement. Wheeler has been a hot name as the July 31 trade deadline nears, and contending teams are likely to be paying close attention to his health and performance.

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