WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jacob deGrom turned in a record 23rd consecutive quality start, lowered his ERA to 1.77 and boosted his record to .500 as he bids to earn the NL Cy Young Award, allowing one run in seven innings to help the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Friday night.
Throwing fastballs in the 97-99 mph range, deGrom (9-9) struck out eight and walked one while allowing just one run and three hits, all singles. Bob Gibson (in 1968) and Chris Carpenter (2005) each had single-season runs of 22 quality starts, the previous major league mark.
The right-handed deGrom has given up as many as four earned runs in only one of his 31 starts in 2018, back on April 10 against Miami. He's now up to 28 in a row allowing three runs or fewer, the longest single-season streak in major league history.
So this game was pretty much wrapped up by the third inning, which ended with the Mets ahead 4-1. Jay Bruce had two run-scoring hits, and Devin Mesoraco and Dominic Smith also delivered RBIs, all off Joe Ross (0-1).
Robert Gsellman worked around Anthony Rendon's RBI single in the ninth for his 12th save.
Washington began the day in danger of being officially eliminated from contention in the NL East, which it won the past two seasons under then-manager Dusty Baker. A loss by the Nationals plus a victory by the Braves would end any chance Washington has of catching Atlanta.
DeGrom is locked in what's considered a tight race for Cy Young honors -- and perhaps league MVP consideration, too -- with Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who is 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Scherzer has won the past two Cy Young Awards in the NL, plus one in the AL when he played for the Detroit Tigers.
In the Mets' 5-4 victory in 12 innings Thursday, Scherzer gave up three runs in seven innings and struck out 13.
Entering Friday, deGrom boasted a majors-leading 1.78 ERA, 251 Ks and 45 walks, and ranked No. 1 in various other categories.
"I think that it says a lot about who he is as a worker. I think it says a lot about who he is as a competitor," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "He tends to step it up when it matters the most, and this is probably mattering the most out of all his starts, and he continues to pitch just as dominant as he was before. That's the definition of a true ace."
DeGrom looked good from the outset, striking out leadoff hitter Victor Robles with a 98 mph fastball, then getting Bryce Harper to swing through a 99 mph offering to end the first inning. Harper missed a 93 mph slider to strike out again in the fourth, then grounded out on a chopper fielded by deGrom in the sixth.
Washington's only run off deGrom came on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly on a ball hit to the warning track in deep center field in the second.
Mets: Mesoraco hadn't played since leaving a game Sept. 3 because of a bulging disk in his back. He was 3 for 3 with a walk.
Nationals: OF Adam Eaton was out of the starting lineup for the fourth time in five games, because of what manager Dave Martinez said was a sore and stiff left knee, the one surgically repaired last season.
WE'RE GOING STREAKING!
Nationals 3B Rendon's second-inning walk extended his streak of reaching base safely to a career-best 29 games; he came around to score.
RHP Corey Oswalt (3-2, 6.31 ERA) will start for the Mets on Saturday, while the Nationals wouldn't commit to a starting pitcher before Friday's game.
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It was another rough start for the Capitals who not only have lost every preseason game they have played, but have still yet to hold a lead. Washington was only able to put one goal past the Carolina Hurricanes as a 3-1 first period deficit gave way to a 5-1 loss.
Despite the ugly result, however, there were some bright spots. Here are the players who impressed.
In an era where everyone is trying to get faster, it really can make the physical players stand out. O’Brien certainly stood out on Friday and looked like the Caps’ best player. He threw his body around against the Hurricanes, but he wasn’t reckless either. O’Brien’s physicality opened up offense for his line. He finished the game with four hits, but also had six total shot attempts, three of which were on net.
At 24, it is critical for O’Brien to show he still has something to offer at the NHL level as the team adds more and more young prospects. He is unlikely to make the roster, but he is certainly making a case for a call-up this season.
Ness had the play of the night for the Capitals with his assist in the first period. He took a pass at the blue line and found some room to work in front of him. He skated up, drew the defense in with a head fake and fed Nicklas Backstrom with the no-look pass. Backstrom netted the easy goal against the fooled Petr Mrazek.
Ness made the Caps out of camp last season and played eight games with the NHL squad. If the Caps are in need of a defenseman for a long-term call-up, some of the prospects are more likely to get the nod over Ness, but he remains a viable call-up for short-term spot duty.
In the first game of the Prospects Showcase tournament earlier this month, Samsonov had a shaky outing allowing five goals. He followed that game with a 21-save shutout in his second start of the tournament. In his first preseason contest on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, Samsonov allowed two goals on 11 shots and never really looked comfortable. On Friday, however, Samsonov came on for the third period and turned aside six of the seven shots he faced. The lone goal he allowed came on the power play as Valentin Zykov knocked the puck out of a scrum in front of the net to Jaccob Slavin on the back door.
The quick improvement from game to game from Samsonov has been impressive and he looked much more comfortable in net in his second preseason appearance.
Madison Bowey’s pants
Way to block that shot.
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