PITTSBURGH -- Jacob deGrom entered play on Saturday with the best ERA in Major League Baseball. However, an absence of run support had caused the potential National League Cy Young candidate to collect just two wins since the start of May.
The Mets spoiled yet another solid outing from deGrom on Saturday, as the right-hander allowed three earned runs over seven innings to make his 13th consecutive quality start in New York's 5-0 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.
"He did his job again," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He was fantastic. He even did his job at the plate. He got two of our six hits. He continues to put us in a position to win, and we're failing him."
Entering Saturday, deGrom ranked 71st in the Majors in run support, as he'd been backed by an average of 3.52 runs of support per game. Saturday's loss was the ninth time through 21 starts this season that the Mets scored two or fewer runs while deGrom was on the mound.
The Mets found themselves in a prime position to provide offensive support for deGrom in the fourth inning. After back-to-back singles from Michael Conforto and Jose Bautista off Trevor Williams, Jeff McNeil drew a walk to load the bases with one out for Devin Mesoraco. Williams then hung a first-pitch slider that Mesoraco grounded straight to shortstop Jordy Mercer to set up an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
deGrom placed himself in scoring position in the fifth by lining a one-out double to left field, but he didn't get the chance to round the bases and provide himself a run. Williams walked Amed Rosario on four pitches before striking out Brandon Nimmo and forcing Wilmer Flores to pop out to keep the game scoreless.
After cruising through five shutout frames, deGrom opened the sixth inning with back-to-back strikeouts. He then gave up a single to Gregory Polanco, who stole second base and later scored on Colin Moran's ground-ball single to put the Pirates on the board.
"I felt good early on. I actually felt good the whole game," deGrom said. "A lot of hits weren't hit hard, and then they hit some balls hard at guys. I felt good, but they did a good job [with] two strikes, putting the ball in play, finding holes. They beat me tonight."
The Mets opted not to pinch-hit for deGrom when his spot in the lineup came up in the seventh inning. With one out, deGrom swung on the first pitch he saw from right-hander Edgar Santana and notched a line-drive single to center field for his second hit of the night.
deGrom came back out to pitch the seventh inning and surrendered a pair of runs via a groundout and Adam Frazier RBI double.
"I'm not giving him extra chances for him to get a win," Callaway said of allowing deGrom to stay in. "I'm giving him extra chances for us to get a win. Because I know he's our best pitcher, and when he has pitches left, he has the best chance to get us another zero."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Coming home: With one out and a runner on third base in the fourth inning, deGrom got Jose Osuna to tap a soft ground ball back toward the mound. Stepping off the bump, deGrom fielded the ball and fired home to nab Polanco at the plate and preserve the scoreless game.
HE SAID IT
"I think that obviously they aren't indicative from what we've seen of Jacob and his performance this year. I don't think that everybody shares my opinion on that, and it definitely could cost him something." -- Callaway, on how deGrom's win-loss record could affect his NL Cy Young Award chances
Right-hander Zack Wheeler is set to start the four-game series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. Wheeler earned a no-decision in his start against Pittsburgh on June 27 despite throwing seven scoreless innings. Right-hander Joe Musgrove will be on the mound for the Pirates.