NEW YORK -- The Mets had all the ingredients in place for a picture-perfect Saturday at Citi Field: a sellout crowd, a sun-splashed afternoon and a dominant Jacob deGrom on the mound. But it was Joe Kelly and the Red Sox who scored an opportunistic 3-1 victory, sending the Mets to their fifth consecutive home loss. With the Nationals beating the Marlins, the Mets' lead in the National League East was cut to 5 1/2 games.
"Joe was outstanding," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We didn't get much chance. Every once in a while, you're going to run into a well-pitched game -- and they can hit."
The first-place Mets have lost consecutive games since their 8-1 road trip, and five in a row at Citi dating back to their Aug. 14-16 sweep at the hands of the Pirates. Though deGrom took a no-hitter into the fifth, the Red Sox fattened up his pitch count enough to chase him after six.
"We're going to be fine," Collins said. "We just had a blip and we've got to pick it up."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mookie leads the charge: Betts set the table for Boston's two-run rally in the sixth with a leadoff single against deGrom. In the seventh, Betts unloaded for a solo shot just over the wall in left against Hansel Robles that gave Kelly a 3-0 lead. Betts had planned on meeting with former Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson before the game, but conflicting schedules got in the way.
No no-no: Early on, deGrom was untouchable, striking out five of the first nine batters he faced in three perfect innings. Boston's first baserunner did not reach until shortstop Wilmer Flores committed a throwing error to open the fourth. Their first hit did not land safely until Brock Holt singled to lead off the fifth.
"He threw great," Collins said. "He threw the ball very well. He felt good. He just gave up a couple runs and they got his pitch count up to the point where we had to make a switch. But he threw the ball good."
Sandoval does it with bat, glove: Sandoval put the Red Sox in front when he bashed a double into the gap in right-center in the sixth. The third baseman helped keep them in front in the bottom of the seventh, making a terrific diving stab to his left and firing to first to retire Flores to end the inning with a runner stranded at third in a 3-1 game. More >
"That's the guy that we've seen in San Francisco," said Red Sox infield instructor Brian Butterfield. "The one thing that's most admirable with him is he's played through some bumps and bruises this year and never complained. But now he's healthy, he's moving around well. He's a good defender. He's a good athlete. He's a good baseball player. He does a lot of things, he cares about everything we do. He cares about winning. He's been a champion. We're lucky to have him."
Bart for three outs: Hoping to make it to Sept. 1 without dipping into their Minors for bullpen help, the Mets called upon Bartolo Colon in the ninth for his first relief appearance since April 2011. On what would have been his normal between-starts bullpen day, Colon worked around a one-out David Ortiz double to give the Mets a scoreless inning. More >
"I think we're all in a really good place. I'm really proud of these guys. Like I said yesterday, it's a really hostile environment, team in a race. Our youngsters come in here and are growing up right before our very eyes." -- interim manager Torey Lovullo, on the Red Sox, who have won 10 of their last 15 games
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Kelly became the first Red Sox pitcher to go 6-0 in a calendar month since Pedro Martinez in May 1999. The last to do it in August was Roger Clemens in 1990.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Lefty Wade Miley (10-10, 4.51 ERA) closes out this series for the Red Sox at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday in hopes of rebounding from his last start, when he gave up a career-high 13 hits in a loss to the White Sox. This is the last NL road game of the season for the Red Sox.
Mets: A day after celebrating his 23rd birthday (his mom sent a cake to the Citi Field clubhouse), Noah Syndergaard will take the mound for the series finale against the Red Sox. Syndergaard has stumbled a bit in August, posting a 5.57 ERA over his last four starts to prompt speculation that he could spend October in the bullpen.