Dominant deGrom pitches surging Mets to 5-2 win over Braves

  • New York Mets' Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor celebrate Sunday after scoring during the third inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

NEW YORK — Jacob deGrom struck out 12 and carried a perfect game into the sixth inning of his second start all season, pitching the New York Mets past the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Sunday for their 12th victory in 14 games.

Pete Alonso drove in two runs and the first-place Mets finished with 19 strikeouts — including three straight from closer Edwin Díaz to end a combined two-hitter. They took four of five from Atlanta in their NL East showdown, extending their division lead to 6 1/2 games over the defending World Series champions.

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“It was kind of emotional walking out there. I haven’t taken this mound in over a year,” deGrom said. “I had to take a second and kind of get myself together.”

Pitching at home for the first time in 13 months, a dominant deGrom (1-0) retired his first 17 batters — 12 on strikeouts — before walking No. 9 hitter Ehire Adrianza with two outs in the sixth. That ended the longest perfect-game bid of deGrom’s career.

Dansby Swanson followed with a two-run homer on the 76th and final pitch from deGrom, making it 5-2.

“He was really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I’m like, good God, there’s nothing wrong with him.”

The two-time Cy Young Award winner missed the final three months last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, then was shut down late in spring training because of a stress reaction in his right scapula. He finally returned Tuesday at Washington, throwing five innings of one-run ball in a rare Mets loss lately.

“It’s a really cool thing that we have going,” deGrom said. “The goal is to keep it going.”

New York fans had to wait a little longer than they planned to see deGrom go to work as the start of the game was delayed 20 minutes by rain. Once play began, however, deGrom didn’t disappoint the Citi Field crowd of 37,717.

A standing ovation greeted the 34-year-old ace before he stepped onto the mound and his first pitch was a 99 mph fastball that Swanson lofted into right field for an out. The right-hander then struck out Matt Olson on four pitches, each of which was 100 mph or faster. Making his 200th major league start, deGrom finished with the most strikeouts by a Mets pitcher this season. With shadows creeping over the infield during a late-afternoon start, the Braves swung and missed at each of his first 18 sliders.

After getting swept in Saturday’s split doubleheader, Atlanta has lost three straight for the first time all year. The previous team to go that long into a season without a three-game skid was the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who set the major league mark by not losing three in a row until a four-game slide from games Nos. 147-150, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. While deGrom was silencing the Atlanta bats, the Mets scored four times against rookie Spencer Strider (6-4) in the third.

Brandon Nimmo led off with an infield single and moved to third on Francisco Lindor’s single to center. Alonso delivered a two-run double off the third-base bag. Daniel Vogelbach walked and both burly sluggers chugged home on Mark Canha’s double to left-center.

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