Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers against the Philadelphia Phillies...

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers against the Philadelphia Phillies during the second inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Exploiting the difference between an ace and a No. 1 starter, the Mets beat the Phillies, 14-1, on Sunday to earn their fourth win in five games — for the first time this season.

Jacob deGrom continued his campaign for a third consecutive NL Cy Young Award by limiting the Phillies to one run in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 1.69. That is second in the National League behind the Cubs’ Yu Darvish (1.44 ERA).

Righthander Aaron Nola, meanwhile, allowed six runs (three earned) and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.

The Mets (19-22) blew it open with seven runs in the eighth inning against two relievers. They set season-high totals in runs, hits (17), doubles (seven) and homers (five).

“Today,” Pete Alonso said, “was a really awesome day.”

DeGrom had trouble with just one batter: backup catcher Aaron Knapp, who homered in the second and worked an eight-pitch walk in the seventh.

Other than that, he cruised, allowing no more than one baserunner in an inning. He struck out 12 (and walked two) to reach double-digit strikeouts for the 44th time in 179 career starts — about one out of every four outings. Michael Conforto saved a run with an over-the-shoulder catch of Didi Gregorius’ sharp fly ball to the warning track in rightfield.

 

DeGrom’s 35 swing-and-misses were tied for the most in a game by any pitcher since at least 2008.

“Pretty nasty stuff,” manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s just unbelievable to see him pitch. Every outing he goes out there, it’s like his stuff is better.”

Added deGrom: “I had a really good feel for the slider. It had a lot of movement on it, and I was able to place it where I wanted. Seeing the swings I was getting on it, just kind of stuck with.”

The offense backed up deGrom plenty. Alonso homered twice — including off the face of the second deck in left — to up his team-high total to 10. He has gone deep four times in his past four games, starting around when he began using one of Todd Frazier’s bats, and in a 162-game season would be on a 40-homer pace.

Dominic Smith went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and three doubles, tying the Mets’ single-game record. Brandon Nimmo (homer) and Michael Conforto (two doubles) had three hits apiece and scored a combined five runs.

Against Nola and others, the Mets did again what they have done so well lately: Take a lead, then keep scoring.

Smith led off the fourth with a double and scored on Andres Gimenez’s two-out, two-run single up the middle. Conforto led off the fifth with a double and scored on Robinson Cano’s two-out, 113-mph grounder to first base, too hot for Rhys Hoskins, who was assigned an error on the play, to handle. Jeff McNeil led off the sixth with his first homer of the season. The Mets celebrated with a group hug in the dugout.

“We didn’t chase,” Smith said. “That’s when he gets a lot of success, when guys expand their zone and chase. We were able to get him over the middle of the plate and not try to do too much.”

As they try to claw back to .500, the Mets wrap up this four-game series against the Phillies — one of the teams ahead of them in the NL East — with a date Monday afternoon against Zack Wheeler.

“I feel that the way we’re hitting our stride right now, finding our groove, it’s been scary,” Alonso said. “This team has the capability of going on a tear. All of us have been talking about it for a long time. Once we keep staying where we’re at, we’re going to keep in a groove and we’re going to make a really good push at it.”