Mets come up empty for deGrom and lose to Cubs again, 4-1

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NEW YORK – Jacob deGrom was outpitched by journeyman Adrian Sampson, and the frustrated New York Mets mustered little on offense again Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Ian Happ homered deep into the second deck on a 99 mph heater from deGrom (5-2), and No. 9 batter David Bote added his second home run of the season for the Cubs (60-82), who won the series opener 5-2 on Monday.

One night later, the scuffling Mets squandered another potential chance to increase their slim NL East lead over Atlanta, which played later in San Francisco. New York is 5-6 in a 16-game stretch against Washington, Pittsburgh, Miami and Chicago – all more than 20 games under .500 this season.

Pete Alonso barely missed a two-run homer in the first inning when it hooked just foul, and the slugger slammed down his bat after drawing a walk.

That appeared to tick off Sampson, and the two exchanged words before umpires spoke directly to each of them.

Alonso launched his 34th homer in the ninth against Brandon Hughes, who got five outs to finish it. New York managed only four hits against three Cubs pitchers and was booed a bit by the Citi Field crowd of 26,435.

Sampson (2-5) allowed two hits and four walks in six shutout innings. He struck out three.

The 30-year-old righty is pitching for his third major league team in five seasons, plus a shaky 2020 year in the Korean Baseball Organization. He had never thrown six scoreless innings in the majors before, though he’s fared well on the mound this month.

Happ homered leading off the second. Aided by catcher James McCann‘s throwing error, Chicago scored twice off deGrom in the fourth on Yan Gomes‘ sacrifice fly and Patrick Wisdom‘s safety squeeze.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner struck out 10 in six innings. He gave up three runs and four hits without a walk.

Bote went deep against reliever Seth Lugo in the seventh to make it 4-0.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: SS Nico Hoerner (triceps) was feeling better and planned to go through a little light baseball activity before the game to determine if he could be available off the bench. … RHP Keegan Thompson, on the 15-day injured list since Aug. 20 with lower back tightness, is expected to make a minor league rehab start Friday. … LHP Steven Brault (shoulder strain) threw a bullpen. … LHP Justin Steele (low back strain) threw a bullpen Monday that went as expected. He is eligible to come off the injured list Saturday.

Mets: RHP Max Scherzer (left oblique irritation) is scheduled to pitch Wednesday in a simulated game at Citi Field or a rehab appearance with Triple-A Syracuse. If all goes well, he’s expected to come off the injured list early next week in Milwaukee. … RHP Tylor Megill (right shoulder strain) and RHP Drew Smith (right lat strain) both pitched at Syracuse. After a lengthy delay at the start, Megill gave up five runs, three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. He threw only 15 of 29 pitches for strikes. Smith struck out two in a scoreless inning of work. Megill, normally a starter, is expected to fill a bullpen role when he returns, which could be soon. … Luis Guillorme started at second base and received a warm ovation in his first game since spending nearly a month on the injured list with a left groin strain. … Mets manager Buck Showalter on All-Star RF Starling Marte, out since last week with a partial fracture of his right middle finger: “It’s going to be slow. I’ll say it one more time: He has a broken finger. You can’t put it in some hydraulic chamber and just make the bone grow together. We’d like to. It’s going to heal, and it’s going to heal before the season’s over. Depending on what season you’re talking about.”

UP NEXT

LHP Drew Smyly (6-8, 3.57 ERA) pitches for Chicago in the series finale Wednesday night. New York had not announced a starter.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closed out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before 15-game winner Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).