By GIDEON RUBIN Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ It was by chance that Jacob deGrom recently developed a new throwing program. If the early returns are any indication, it seems to be working nicely.
DeGrom pitched eight strong innings and Wilmer Flores homered and drove in two runs as the New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Saturday.
DeGrom (7-3) struck out seven and allowed one run while scattering four hits to lead the Mets to their second win in a row after they had lost four straight and seven of eight entering the series. It was also the third straight game deGrom pitched at least eight full innings.
He happened to overhear John Smoltz explain the benefits of throwing two light bullpen outings between starts over one heavy one during a game in which the Hall of Famer was a television commentator at Citi Field. DeGrom tried it about a month ago, and the right-hander said his comfort level and fastball command have improved since he started throwing twice between starts.
“I had (Smoltz’s) number and texted him and said, `Do you have a minute to talk?”’ deGrom recalled. “And we just kind of talked about the idea behind it.”
DeGrom has given up two earned runs in 26 innings over his last three starts.
“That’s what an ace does,” Mets right fielder Jay Bruce said. “It’s at the point where now where I’m always wondering if he’s going back out there for the ninth to finish the game.”
The Giants (27-50), who last year had the best record in the majors at the All-Star break, are on pace to lose more than 100 games for the first time since arriving on the West Coast. They’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games, 13 of 15 and 20 of their last 25.
“It is hard to believe,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I don’t know if anybody saw this coming. Hard to make sense of it, we have a lot of talent here. Just shows you, each year can be different, it can be embarrassing, 50 losses at this point, but we’ll get this thing better and figured out.”
Curtis Granderson tripled off Sam Dyson (0-1) to lead off the eighth inning and scored on Bruce’s RBI single.
Johnny Cueto allowed one run and five hits in seven innings. His biggest mistake was a 2-2 changeup he left over the middle of the plate that Flores clubbed into the left-field bleachers for his seventh homer.
“I wanted to get that pitch down and I left it up, and he beat me,” Cueto said.
The Giants trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the seventh when Belt hit an opposite-field homer to left off deGrom. Belt’s team-leading 14th home run came on a hanging first-pitch curveball.
Asdrubal Cabrera, whose request to be traded on Friday triggered some controversy in the Mets’ clubhouse, was 2 for 3 with two walks. The veteran shortstop, who’s 5 for 9 since coming off the disabled list, was at second base _ a move he was unhappy about _ for a second straight day. He made a tough play fielding a grounder well to his left to rob Austin Slater of a hit in the bottom of the fifth
Flores’ homer was the Mets’ 42nd this month, the most they’ve hit in June in franchise history. Their record for home runs hit in any month is 45.
DeGrom continued his pattern of dominant daytime pitching (games that start before 5 p.m.). His 1.69 ERA in day games is the lowest among those with 200 daytime innings pitched in the majors since 1913.
Giants INF Ryder Jones was called up from Triple-A Sacramento. The 23-year-old was 0 for 3 in his big league debut. INF Aaron Hill was designated for assignment.
RHP Rafael Montero (0-4, 6.49 ERA) will return to the bullpen as the Mets go from a six-man rotation back to five after Monday’s off day, manager Terry Collins said. Montero is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA in two spot starts. LHP Matt Moore (3-7, 5.82) is 1-1 with an 8.55 ERA in four starts in June. He’s 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two career starts against the Mets.
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