ATLANTA — In case Jacob deGrom needs a refresher course on the topic, a “slump” is a stretch in which a player underperforms.
Maybe two straight games isn’t a terrific sample size, but this is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, coming off a historic season. And so, the slump is on.
The Mets ace produced a second straight clunker Sunday night, in a non-quality performance that contributed to a missed opportunity for a series win in a 7-3 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park.
DeGrom (2-2) slogged through five innings and received little offensive support as the Mets lost their second straight to finish with a split in the four-game series. They will open a three-game series on Monday in Philadelphia, where Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to face Aaron Nola.
Unleashing 114 pitches over the five innings, deGrom surrendered three earned runs on five hits — including two home runs — and four walks with nine strikeouts. DeGrom snapped a streak of eight straight road starts in which he was unbeaten, dating to last Aug. 13. He was 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA during that stretch.
Charlie Culberson blasted a two-run homer against Justin Wilson in the sixth that put the Braves firmly in control with a 5-1 lead.
In his previous start, against the Twins on Tuesday, deGrom had a streak of 26 straight quality starts broken, a mark that tied a record set by Bob Gibson. The final carnage was six earned runs allowed on eight hits, including three homers, over four innings.
DeGrom barely survived through five innings Sunday, because of control problems. On the ESPN television broadcast, analyst Alex Rodriguez raised the possibility deGrom was tipping his pitches.
In the fifth, Josh Donaldson led off with a blast over the left-field fence for the Braves’ second homer of the game.
DeGrom encountered early pitch-count trouble, finishing the third inning — in which he walked two batters and allowed two hits — at 71 pitches.
Ozzie Albies singled leading off the inning and stole second, advancing to third on Wilson Ramos’ errant throw. After Freddie Freeman walked, Ronald Acuna Jr., stroked an RBI single that put the Mets in a 2-1 hole. Johan Camargo walked with two outs to load the bases before deGrom struck out Ender Inciarte.
J.D. Davis smashed a two-out homer against Julio Teheran in the second that gave the Mets their first run. The homer was Davis’ third in 34 at-bats this season.
Teheran lasted six innings and allowed one run on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. The right-hander improved to 10-7 with a 2.18 ERA in 26 career appearances against the Mets.
The Mets entered with a franchise-record streak of seven games in which they had scored at least six runs. But beyond the first inning, when Michael Conforto’s double put runners on second and third with two outs, the Mets barely caused a commotion against Teheran.
Amed Rosario reached on an infield single against reliever Luke Jackson in the eighth that brought in the Mets’ second run. Keon Broxton’s RBI single later in the inning pulled the Mets within 6-3.
Paul Sewald, recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before the game to give the Mets a fresh bullpen arm, allowed one run over 1 ¹/₃ innings. Jeurys Familia allowed a run in the eighth on Donaldson’s RBI single following an Albies triple.
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