They had another chance to help the cause Friday night even though deGrom didn’t start the series opener against the Phillies at Citi Field. The Mets faced Aaron Nola, one of deGrom’s top competitors in the battle to be named the National League’s top pitcher.
If they could drive up Nola’s ERA and keep his record from rising, it could only help deGrom. But they drove his ERA up only from 2.23 to 2.29, and Rhys Hoskins’ go-ahead homer against Tyler Bashlor in the eighth gave Nola and Philadelphia a 4-3 win.
So Nola’s record rose to 16-4, tied with the Nationals’ Max Scherzer for the league lead in wins. Nola yielded three runs and three hits in seven innings. The 25-year-old righthander struck out eight, walked one and hit one.
“My focus is fully on this team right now, trying to get some wins, trying to win the division title,” Nola said.
The Mets (63-77) are in a different position, through no fault of deGrom.
“We definitely wanted to help him out because he’s been pitching lights out all year and he’s making history out there,” Dominic Smith said. “We definitely talked about it all day.”
The next start for deGrom will come in Sunday’s series finale.
“We definitely want Jake to win,” Brandon Nimmo said. “So any way we can help, we want to . . . But Jake, he doesn’t really need too much help because his actions speak for themselves. I think this year that he’s having, he’s more than deserving.”
Steven Matz has had an up-and-down year, but the arrow has been pointing up lately. The Stony Brook native has allowed two or fewer runs in his last four starts.
“I definitely feel sharper,” Matz said.
This start lasted only five innings because it took him 103 pitches to get that far. The lefty allowed two runs, three hits and two walks, striking out eight.
Bashlor (0-3) was the one on the wrong end of the decision. With the score 3-3, Hoskins turned on Bashlor’s 97.1-mph fastball and powered it into the leftfield seats for his 28th homer.
Jay Bruce homered to right-center to give the Mets a 1-0 lead in the second. Carlos Santana then won a 10-pitch at-bat against Matz in the third, rocketing a sinker over the leftfield fence for a two-run homer. Jeff McNeil tied it in the bottom half with an RBI double.
Philadelphia (74-66), which is 2 1⁄2 games behind the NL East-leading Braves, got a double from pinch hitter Odubel Herrera to open the sixth against Eric Hanhold. Asdrubal Cabrera, in his return to Queens after being traded by the Mets on July 27, singled through the middle for a 3-2 lead.
Smith countered against Nola in the seventh with his third homer, a shot to left-center.
“He’s got a bright future,” Mickey Callaway said of Smith.
The Mets own the second-best record in the NL East since the All-Star break (24-22), but they fell to 28-41 this year at Citi Field.
“We just don’t get as many hits and score as many runs here for whatever reason,” Callaway said. “It seems like it’s been going on for quite some time, five or six years. That’s the part that’s baffling.”