By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Mets manager Terry Collins loves watching Jacob deGrom pitch.
“He’s a tremendous competitor,” Collins said. “He deserves everything he’s got. He’s got two starts left. I hope he wins them both.”
DeGrom set a career high in wins, Dominic Smith and Gavin Cecchini each drove in two runs and the New York Mets snapped a five-game skid with a 7-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
DeGrom (15-9) allowed five hits, one run and two walks in seven innings. He struck out seven while topping his personal mark of 14 victories in 2015.
Needing just 4 2/3 innings to reach 200 for the first time in his career, deGrom will likely cross that threshold with two more starts slated for this season.
“The plan for next year is that everybody’s hopefully healthy and to go to a World Series again, so getting this amount of innings is something that I want to do in the next few years,” he said. “Getting there and seeing what it’s like is definitely a big plus for me.”
The Mets had lost eight straight on the road and had just four wins in their last 18 games away from Citi Field, but they led 5-0 by the fourth inning.
Cecchini and Juan Lagares had RBI singles in the second, Brandon Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrera had RBI doubles in the third and Cecchini doubled again in the fourth.
Freddie Freeman hit his 27th homer for Atlanta to make it 5-1 in the sixth, but the Mets tacked on two more runs in the seventh on Smith’s two-run double.
The Braves had won seven of nine but they couldn’t overcome a third straight poor start by R.A. Dickey (9-10). The 42-year-old knuckleballer is 0-2 with a 10.05 ERA since beating Philadelphia on Aug. 30.
Smith went 2 for 4 and is hitting .315 with 14 RBIs in 15 games this month. Cabrera is hitting .408 over his last 21 games.
Following an eight-start winning streak that ended on July 29, deGrom went 2-6 with a 4.45 ERA over his last nine starts, but he improved to 5-3 with a 2.19 ERA in 11 career starts against the Braves.
“He had the backdoor slider working, was throwing 97-98-99 mph,” Freeman said. “He was on tonight.”
The Mets are 17-13 when deGrom pitches. New York doesn’t have a winning record with any other starter this season.
“Tonight I felt like my mechanics were the closest to where I want them to be and I was able to field some ground balls back at me,” deGrom said. “Normally those are getting past me. I wasn’t falling off as much, and I think things are starting to fall in place where I want them.”
A.J. Ramos gave up two runs in the ninth on Lane Adams’ single.
Mets: Collins said RHP Noah Syndergaard, sidelined since April 30 with a torn lat muscle, might not return until next week. The team had earlier hoped Syndergaard would be able to pitch against the Braves, but that was scrapped after he was examined Saturday by the team medical staff. He threw a bullpen session with no restrictions on Thursday.
Braves: LF Matt Kemp was out of the lineup with a sore left hamstring, an injury that’s bothered him frequently in the second half of the season. Manager Brian Snitker indicated it’s too early to tell if Kemp will play again this year. Atlanta has 15 games remaining.
Mets: RHP Robert Gsellman (6-7, 5.58 ERA) has had plenty of success in day games, going 3-2 with a 1.88 ERA in six starts and two relief appearances.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (11-11, 4.57 ERA) will try to win his fifth straight start. In 19 career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets, Teheran is 8-4 with a 2.56 ERA.