LOS ANGELES (AP) — David Wright’s struggles at the plate continued as the New York Mets welcomed Jacob deGrom back to the starting rotation.
The rookie right-hander gave up five runs and five hits over six innings on Saturday night and struck out seven in a 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In his first start since a stint on the disabled list, deGrom’s 86-pitch effort was marred by a go-ahead three-run homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the fifth inning.
“I felt good. A lot of outings come down to a few pitches, and I didn’t make the big pitches when I needed to,” said deGrom (6-6), who had been sidelined with rotator cuff tendinitis since Aug 7. “The pitch to Gonzalez was up and away, and I was trying to go down and away.”
Gonzalez, who leads the Dodgers with 87 RBIs, gave them a 5-3 lead with his 18th homer after pitcher Zack Greinke singled and deGrom walked Carl Crawford with two outs. The Dodgers hit three homers against deGrom in a 4-3 road win on May 21, but he has yielded just two in 75 1-3 innings in his last 12 outings.
“Jake threw the ball well, and I was very pleased with what I saw,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I was hoping he could start the next inning and get his pitch count up a little bit so that it wouldn’t be an issue in his next start.”
Juan Lagares opened the scoring in the fourth with his third homer after Lucas Duda singled and Travis d’Arnaud reached on a fielding error by third baseman Miguel Rojas. Gonzalez got one of the runs back in the bottom half with an RBI single and added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
“The only time Jake got hurt was when he made a couple of mistakes to Adrian, and he’s the kind of player who’s going to make you pay for it,” Collins said. “Adrian’s a really good hitter, and he gets paid a lot of money to drive in runs.”
Wright was 0 for 5 with two double-play grounders and two strikeouts, lowering his average to .265. The franchise’s career leader in several offensive categories is batting just .206 over his last 26 games with four RBIs and 19 strikeouts and has grounded into 21 double plays.
Collins didn’t sound prepared to give him off on Sunday in the series finale.
“I don’t think the stars need that stuff. They’ve got to figure it out on the field,” Collins said. “This guy is the leader on this team, and we need him out there. But in my time here, I haven’t seen him scuffle like he has this year.
“In my daily conversations with him, he’s not hurt. He’s healthy. But I certainly don’t have an answer to why he’s going through what he’s gone through.”
Daniel Murphy had a pair of singles, raising his NL-leading hit total to 157. The only players in Mets history to finish a season with the most hits were Lance Johnson (227 in 1996) and Jose Reyes (204 in 2005).
The Dodgers beat the Mets for the 13th time in 15 meetings and increased their NL West lead over San Francisco to 4 1/2 games.
Greinke (13-8) allowed four runs – three earned – and nine hits in seven innings, throwing 105 pitches on seven days’ rest. He struck out four after he was pushed back two days because of elbow discomfort.
“I’m sure it helped some,” Greinke said. “I thought I pitched really well. I felt great again today. Hopefully that’s how it stays.”
Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth for his 37th save.
Mets: Injuries have hurt the Mets this season. They are 60-70 and 15 games out in the NL East. “I don’t think about stuff like that too much, because all teams deal with them,” Collins said. “You’ve got to play through it. We lost Matt (Harvey), and that’s a big piece. He would have made a big difference. But he wasn’t here, and somebody else had to step up. You never want injuries, but in our case there are some things we got out of it that we wouldn’t have otherwise. If Matt didn’t get hurt, maybe we wouldn’t have found deGrom.”
Dodgers: CF Yasiel Puig, batting .247 this month with no homers and four RBIs in 83 at-bats, got the night off because his legs were bothering him.
Mets: Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85 ERA) will make his first start Sunday since his mother, Adriana, died Monday. After the game, he will return to the Dominican Republic to attend her funeral.
Dodgers: Kevin Correia (7-13, 4.87) gets the assignment on his 34th birthday, trying to win his third straight start since Los Angeles acquired him from Minnesota. Correia hasn’t faced the Mets since Sept. 27, 2012, with Pittsburgh.