PHILADELPHIA -- The Mets arrived in Philadelphia closer in the National League East standings to the fourth-place Phillies than the first-place Nationals, desperate for a series win. Jacob deGrom delivered just that in a 5-0 win over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies' lone hit came off the bat of deGrom's counterpart, Zach Eflin, who ripped a single up the middle in the third. But for the eight batters prior and 19 batters after, deGrom didn't allow another base knock. He became the first Mets pitcher to toss a one-hit shutout since R.A. Dickey struck out 13 Orioles on June 18, 2012.
Before Sunday, there had been four one-hit shutouts in which the opposing pitcher had the only hit in Mets history. The most recent also came against Philadelphia, when Cole Hamels singled off Dickey in a 1-0 Mets win on Aug. 13, 2010.
"Probably since we came out of Spring Training [deGrom has been building to this]," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "There was all that concern about his velocity early, but he's just gotten a little stronger and a little stronger. … You saw better command today and probably the best sinker he had all year."
It was the first time the Phillies have been held to one hit since Sept. 15, 2015, when the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg silenced them with 14 strikeouts. deGrom didn't quite match Strasburg, punching out seven Phillies, but flirted with a Greg Maddux -- a complete game on fewer than 100 pitches -- ultimately recording his first career complete game on 105 pitches.
"Command of his pitches, changed speeds, worked fast, he did everything you want your pitchers to do," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of deGrom.
Mackanin opened the second half by remarking that his team is shooting for an NL Wild Card spot, but the series loss to the Mets drops them seven back in that race.
"It's gonna be important," Collins said. "We know going to Chicago, it's going to be a dogfight there. Same thing in Miami. … Just continue on."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED deGrom does it all: Before he had even pitched long enough to earn the win, deGrom had already scored as many runs as he would need. After going four scoreless, allowing only one hit, deGrom stepped to the plate with two outs in the fifth and lined a single into center field. Jose Reyes then lined one into the gap in left-center, and deGrom's long locks were flowing behind him as he turned the corner at second, then third, and crossed the plate, scoring from first base. The inning prior, Cody Asche tried to beat the Mets' shift by laying a bunt down the third-base line, but deGrom flashed his fielding prowess, coming down off the mound to throw Asche out at first.
"Honestly I wasn't thinking anything different," deGrom said. "Today for some reason, every time I went out there, I was acting like it was the first inning, just trying to get three outs and get back in the dugout. That mindset helped me out."
Quantity of quality: Eflin, the Phillies' rookie right-hander, had his fifth straight quality start on Sunday, giving up three runs on five hits in six innings. The five hits were the most Eflin has allowed since his forgettable MLB debut in Toronto (eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings), and three of those hits went for extra bases. Eflin limited the damage by getting Neil Walker to ground out with the bases loaded to end the fifth.
"He didn't have his 'A' game, but he gave us a chance to win," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said. "He was a little bit up in the zone, fell behind some hitters, and when he went up 0-2, he couldn't put them away."
Two outs, so what? The Mets were not deterred by seeing a "2" beneath "outs" on the scoreboard. Juan Lagares' RBI triple, Curtis Granderson's solo home run, Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run shot and Reyes' double to drive in deGrom all came with two outs and amounted to all the Mets' scoring. In all, the Mets were 6-for-15 with two outs -- with four extra-base hits -- not including a pair of free passes.
"We haven't been doing that," Collins said. "We got some two-out hits, which were very big. Really big. Cabrera's was big, Jose's was big. That's something you can see, when you get them, they win a lot of games for you."
WHAT'S NEXT Mets:Steven Matz (7-5, 3.38 ERA) opens a three-game series against the Cubs and Jon Lester (9-4, 3.01) at Wrigley Field on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Each team is coming off series wins to open the second half after heading into the All-Star break on cold streaks.
Phillies: The Phillies open a four-game series with the Marlins on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park. Aaron Nola will be making his first start since July 2. The righty has a 13.50 ERA in his last five starts, and the team decided to skip his last start of the first half.