NEW YORK -- The Mets got another stellar pitching performance from Jacob deGrom on Saturday night. They got six innings of scoreless relief from five other pitchers. What they didn't get was the big hit and, as a result, they once again wasted a big effort from their ace.
deGrom pitched seven innings of one-run ball -- extending his club record to eight straight starts allowing one run or fewer -- and tied a career high with 13 strikeouts as Mets pitchers set the franchise record with 24 strikeouts. But the Cubs' Albert Almora Jr. laced a double off Buddy Baumann with one out in the top of the 14th inning, and that ignited a six-run outburst that sent the Mets to a 7-1 defeat at Citi Field.
It is the Mets' third straight loss and eighth in 10 games. It is also the third straight time that deGrom has sparkled on the mound, only as a prologue to a heartbreaking loss.
The Mets' previous record for striking out opposing hitters was 20, set in 1999 ... against the Cubs.
"This is one of the worst," outfielder Brandon Nimmo said in assessing the loss. "Jake went out there, did an amazing job, and we can't get a win for him. It's the offense's fault. It's my fault. We just can't get working all together. It's really frustrating to be out there for that long, to fail that many times, to come up in big situations and not come through."
Nimmo and Asdrubal Cabrera both went 0-for-6, and the Mets managed just seven hits -- including Michael Conforto's game-tying solo shot in the sixth -- and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
"Maybe they're putting too much pressure on themselves because we haven't been great when [deGrom has] pitched," manager Mickey Callaway said. "Maybe they're putting way too much pressure on themselves."
"I wouldn't be surprised if we came out tomorrow and hit the ball all over the place. It's happened many times before," Conforto said. "Sometimes we reflect on years past -- in 2015, we were right around .500 and we went on a roll. So I think we're going to get some guys back from the DL, hopefully that helps our offense."
Those on the DL who are expected back before long include Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier and Wilmer Flores.
In the 14th, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber set the table for Almora with one-out singles to right field. Outfielders Conforto and Nimmo converged on Almora's drive, but it went over their heads and to the wall. The Cubs tacked on four insurance runs after Baumann was replaced by Gerson Bautista, who gave up Javier Baez's pinch-hit two-run homer to left.
After deGrom whiffed Kristopher Bryant to finish the seventh inning on his season-high 116th pitch, he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the frame. In all, he allowed seven hits and two walks to go with the 13 strikeouts.
This was deGrom's fifth time striking out 13 in a game, including postseason appearances. The 2014 National League Rookie of the Year has double-digit strikeouts in four games this season and 25 for his career. His run of eight starts allowing one run or fewer extends a franchise record. In those eight starts, he has allowed three runs over 47 1/3 innings -- a 0.57 ERA.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
deGrom didn't give up much in the way of hard-hit balls and twice escaped bases-loaded situations. In the first inning, the Cubs loaded the bases on three soft singles, and he eluded damage with strikeouts of Contreras and Schwarber. He got Schwarber to swing through a 99-mph fastball at the top of the strike zone.
Kevin Plawecki had a shot to end things in the 13th inning, when he stepped to the plate with two out and the bases loaded. Jose Bautista had started the threat with a double to left-center, then Conforto was walked intentionally and pinch-hitter Jose Lobaton worked a walk. But Plawecki couldn't convert, grounding into a forceout.
deGrom hasn't allowed more than one run in eight straight starts, dating back to April 21. Only two pitchers have had longer streaks. Bob Gibson of St. Louis had a streak of 11 straight in 1968. Jack Coombs had a run of 10 straight in 1910 for the Philadelphia A's.
HE SAID IT
"He's having a lot of success for a reason. He was unbelievable. It's been a while since I've faced a pitcher like that. Everything was moving away from my barrel. His fastball had some late life, his slider was sharp, and he threw me one of the nastiest changeups I've ever seen. We didn't have very much success against him. Some guys had really good at-bats. I wasn't one of them. Tip your hat to the guy." -- Almora, on deGrom
The recently acquired Bautista should be eager to hit when the Mets face the Cubs in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. ET series finale. Bautista has stepped in against Chicago starter Jonathan Lester 71 times in his career; though he's hit just .230 against the southpaw, he has five home runs and three doubles among his 14 hits off him. The Mets send lefty Steven Matz to the mound for his first start since a sprained finger on his left hand forced him from Tuesday's start after three innings.