Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom stands on the mound during the first...

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom stands on the mound during the first inning against the Nationals at Citi Field on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jacob deGrom was in Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Nationals at Citi Field for only five innings, but he was in the middle of a lot of the big plays.

He had pitched seven innings in each of his previous four starts, but extending that run was going to be tough after he needed 34 pitches to get through the first, when the Nationals scored three unearned runs on an error. It got harder as Washington used a patient approach that required him to throw 50 more pitches in the next three innings.

He left with the score tied at 3 after allowing those three unearned runs, four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. His ERA in his past 15 starts is 1.97.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the first, DeGrom covered first on a grounder to Pete Alonso, but he slowed down slightly as he approached first and Alonso’s throw from his knees went off his glove and allowed all three men to score.  

“Jake even said, ‘I should have had that.’ It’s nobody’s fault,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “There’s a lot of years of experience in that dugout and not one of us had ever seen a ball not leave the infield with the bases loaded and all three runs score. That was kind of tough — something that never happens happened on that play.”

DeGrom helped the Mets tie it up in a three-run second. Joe Panik’s two-out single brought in one run and put runners at first and second for deGrom, who laid down a perfect bunt between the mound and third base and beat third baseman Anthony Rendon’s throw for a hit. Jeff McNeil followed with a two-run double down the rightfield line.

“Jacob battled hard today. He didn’t have his best stuff but man, did he battle,” Callaway said. “He gave up three unearned runs and battled through five innings on a high pitch count.”

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom can't come up with a throw...

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom can't come up with a throw by Pete Alonso (not pictured) at Citi Field on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

DeGrom and his family left the ballpark before the clubhouse opened after the game and was not available for comment.

Extra bases

Jeurys Familia struck out the side in order in the eighth and might be rounding into form. Bullpen coach Ricky Bones found he was “coming up short” in his delivery, so he lengthened it. That allowed Familia to find his proper release point and get better results .  .  .   Panik’s RBI was his first as a Met .  .  .   Reliever Brad Brach made his Mets debut and stranded two inherited runners by getting Brian Dozier to fly out.