ATLANTA -- Jacob deGrom gets no support. No exaggeration.
DeGrom tossed eight scoreless innings on Saturday, yet came away with a no-decision and remained winless since April 30.
The New York Mets nonetheless salvaged a 1-0 win against the Atlanta Braves when Kelly Johnson -- a three-time former Brave -- delivered a pinch-hit homer against ex-Met Dario Alvarez to open the 11th inning.
The Mets moved within two games of the first-place Washington Nationals, who have lost seven straight games.
Earlier this month, Johnson was acquired by the Mets from the Braves for the second straight season.
“Any time you’re playing against a former team, you get a little extra pep in your step and want to go in and prove yourself,” Johnson said.
The Mets (40-33) have not scored in deGrom’s past 21 innings on the mound. They have scored three runs -- total -- in the five games he has started in June.
When Johnson’s homer got the Mets on the scoreboard, deGrom avoided becoming the franchise’s first pitcher since Pat Zachry in 1980 to make three straight starts in which the Mets were shut out.
DeGrom, who allowed seven hits and one walk in a 100-pitch effort, is now winless in 10 straight starts. That matches the second-longest streak in Mets history by a starting pitcher who has allowed no more than four runs in any of those outings. The franchise record belongs to Dick Selma, who had 13 straight winless starts from 1965 through ’67 while keeping the opponent to fewer than four runs in each outing.
“Everyone knows about our pitching,” Johnson said. “You want to go out and score runs and give them just the confidence to go out there and throw their game and not have to worry about that kind of thing. Right now there’s been a lot of those stretches where runs are hard to come by. Obviously they’re picking us up in a big way. Hopefully we can help support them a little better going forward. For the time, it’s good to grind out some wins, too. You learn a little bit about yourself.”
DeGrom professed that the lack of support doesn’t bother him.
“My goal is to go out there and put up zeroes and keep us in the ballgame,” deGrom said. “And so I think that makes it easy for me.”
Braves starter Julio Teheran fell an inning -- and a run of support -- shy of becoming the first pitcher since Bruce Hurst on May 13 and 18, 1992 to shut out the Mets in consecutive starts. Teheran followed a one-hit shutout this past Sunday at Citi Field by tossing eight scoreless innings this time. He departed at 110 pitches. Teheran has blanked the Mets for 24 innings over his past three starts against them.
The Mets signed Jose Reyes to a minor league deal and promoted 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo from Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday as they begin to lay the groundwork to try to reinvigorate the offense, as they did last July with the promotion of Michael Conforto and the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Johnson and Juan Uribe. Nimmo is due to make his major league debut on Sunday, while Reyes will begin a week to 10-day minor league stint later that day.
The Mets entered Saturday’s game ranked 28th in MLB in runs scored, ahead of only fellow NL East members Philadelphia and Atlanta.
The Mets had a bona fide opportunity against Teheran in the third. Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and advanced to third on Cespedes’ single to center. However, Cespedes tried to advance to second on the play and ended up getting tagged out when he went in standing up. The Mets then stranded Granderson on third base when Neil Walker flied out.
There was more ugliness in the 10th. After Wilmer Flores singled to lead off the inning, Alejandro De Aza popped up a bunt attempt and then did not hustle out of the box. Reliever Jim Johnson alertly let the ball drop, then initiated a double play.
"Very surprising," manager Terry Collins labeled De Aza's gaffe. "No. 1, I've seen this guy play. The one thing that he is known for is how hard he plays. It goes to show you, everybody gets frustrated when they don't do the job. I've seen it happen a lot of times."
DeGrom used double plays to end three straight innings. That included deGrom stranding a runner at third base in the fourth when he coaxed a 5-4-3 DP off Adonis Garcia's bat. Garcia had another chance when he batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, but deGrom induced a fielder’s choice grounder to Flores at third base.
"Jake got off to kind of a rocky start," Collins said, referring to deGrom's season. "But I think he's starting to round into shape a little better. His arm is finally feeling better."
What’s next: Bartolo Colon (6-3, 3.00 ERA) opposes right-hander Bud Norris (2-7, 4.69) in Sunday’s 1:35 p.m. ET series finale. Colon lasted only four pitches in his last outing. He was struck with a comebacker and suffered a bruised right thumb.
Several months ago, when Jose Reyes was a veteran player shrouded in controversy and the New York Mets were brimming with optimism about a second straight playoff appearance, it was inconceivable to think he would escape baseball purgatory and find refuge in their dugout during the 2016 season.
The latest union between Reyes and the Mets, which engendered a statement of apology from the player and a cautious show of faith by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, says something about the lengths that teams will go to and the potential backlash they're willing to incur when they're desperate for help between the lines.
In Reyes' case, the Mets' desperation resulted in an opportunity that many baseball observers wondered would ever come.
The Mets added another dose of chaos to a season dotted with minefields when they announced a flurry of transactions Saturday. Brandon Nimmo, New York's top pick in the 2011 first-year player draft, has arrived from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was hitting .328 with a .917 OPS. In a corresponding move, the Mets demoted Michael Conforto, their 2014 first-round selection, in hopes that he can rediscover his swing and his confidence amid less pressure-packed circumstances in the Pacific Coast League.
In a third transaction, the Mets dipped into their past and consummated a minor-league deal with Reyes, whose road back to Flushing will begin with a rehab assignment with the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones.
Newly promoted Brandon Nimmo is traveling and not in the starting lineup.
Both Conforto and Nimmo are former first-round draft picks of the Mets.
Conforto, who burst onto the scene with nine home runs in 56 games with the Mets last season, is mired in a prolonged slump, batting .107 (8-for-75) since May 24. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
"I think in talking with the coaching staff and the manager, we just felt that, look, this is counterproductive and what we need to do is get him to Las Vegas, get his swing back, and then hopefully get him back here within a relatively short period of time," general manager Sandy Alderson said.
Mets manager Terry Collins said he will frequently use Nimmo in left field and leave Yoenis Cespedes in center field.
"It took a long time for it to set in," Nimmo said Saturday. "I was in shock. I just didn't really know exactly how to feel, because it's been something that I've been working for a long time, and I always prayed about and I always dreamt about. It's always seemed like something that I've always been reaching for. ... I've been healthy this year. That's been a big, big part."
Nimmo was the first selection of Alderson's regime (13th overall) in 2011. Nimmo was batting .328 with five home runs and 37 RBIs in 63 games at Las Vegas this season.
The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Nimmo is the earliest draft pick ever out of the state of Wyoming. Previously, it had been Michael Beaver, a sixth-round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies
Reyes will report to Class A Brooklyn and is expected to play third base Sunday, the Mets announced. Reyes is slated to address the media after the game.
General manager Sandy Alderson estimated Reyes will play for a week to 10 days in the minors before joining the Mets. He will likely move on to Double-A Binghamton or Triple-A Las Vegas after a second game with Brooklyn on Monday.
The Mets originally signed Reyes in 1999 as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic. He was a member of the organization for a dozen years, winning the National League batting title in 2011 before departing for a six-year, $106 million contract with the Miami Marlins.
Reyes was arrested Oct. 31 after a physical altercation with his wife at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea, Hawaii. He allegedly grabbed his wife, Katherine, by the throat and pushed her into a sliding-glass door in their hotel room. Reyes' wife declined to cooperate with prosecutors, and a judge in Hawaii formally dropped a domestic abuse charge in April.
Major League Baseball suspended Reyes without pay through May 31 for violating its domestic abuse policy. Reyes forfeited $6.25 million in salary as a result of the suspension. Unable to trade Reyes, the Colorado Rockies placed him on waivers Thursday for the purpose of granting him his release, and Reyes became a free agent Saturday.
"As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family," Reyes said in a statement. "I have completed the counseling required by MLB, have been in ongoing therapy, and will continue with counseling going forward. I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York."
After completing his suspension, Reyes appeared in nine games with Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .303 with 2 home runs, 2 RBIs and 3 steals in 33 at-bats. Still, the Rockies designated him for assignment last week.
The Rockies are responsible for the remaining $39 million owed to Reyes, minus a prorated portion of the $507,500 MLB minimum that the Mets would pick up.
Reyes will be required to continue undergoing counseling while with the Mets.
"I did meet with Jose personally. We talked for about an hour," Alderson said. "Obviously this domestic abuse issue was the focal point of that conversation. I came away feeling that he had taken responsibility for this mistake on his part, that he was remorseful. He obviously has paid a penalty for this, both financially and in terms of his career. He, I believe, is committed to ongoing counseling and support of organizations working against domestic abuse.
"And obviously, in addition to this personal meeting, we had a lot of internal conversations. [Chief operating officer] Jeff Wilpon was directly involved in this every step of the way. We were aware of the possible controversy this would generate. We're also fully aware of the responsibility we sort of have to be leaders in this area of fighting domestic abuse. ... At the same time, Jose was a member of the Mets organization for 12 years. He was signed at 16 years of age. He was a solid citizen during all of that time. And so, if you think of it in those terms, us as a place where Jose grew up, almost as a surrogate family, we felt that he deserved a second chance, and that second chance was most appropriate with us."
Alderson said Reyes would get outfield exposure during his minor league stint in addition to playing third base.
"Ian Desmond is playing center field for the Texas Rangers," Alderson said. "This would not be a significant challenge, I don't believe, for Jose if he were to play a little bit of left field."
Mets manager Terry Collins, who managed Reyes during the 2011 season, said he intends to slot in Reyes as the team's leadoff hitter, a role he filled for the Mets during his first term with the club. Reyes had only a .310 on-base percentage last season with the Toronto Blue Jays and Rockies, but he did steal 24 bases in 116 games. The Mets have struggled to manufacture runs and have a glaring lack of speed. David Wright
Reyes officially is due to become a free agent at 1 p.m. ET.
And the Mets are confident enough he will sign with the organization that manager Terry Collins already is plotting with staff how to use the 33-year-old shortstop.
Collins suggested Reyes could be used in the outfield. Third base, second base, and a utility role also are options.
Regardless, Reyes likely would first require a minor league tune-up stint.
Teheran tossed a one-hit shutout against the Mets last weekend at Citi Field.
DeGrom is winless since improving to 3-0 on April 30. The Mets have been shut out in his past two starts. They have scored a total of two runs in his four starts in June.
With the NL East-leading Washington Nationals’ losing streak now at six games, the Mets are only three games out of first place in the National League East.
SATURDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
James Loney’s three-run homer staked the Mets to an eight-run lead, but the Braves roared back with six runs in the fifth inning while chasing Steven Matz. The Mets ultimately held on for an 8-6 win when Loney managed to hold the bag on a throw from Travis d’Arnaud on what otherwise would have been a wild pitch on a strikeout. Jeurys Familia recorded a four-out save and is now 25-for-25 in conversions this season. That established a new franchise record to begin a season. Matz experienced continued elbow tightness, but insisted it was not a factor in his meltdown. Yoenis Cespedes twisted his left ankle while getting picked off in the seventh inning, but remained in the game. Hansel Robles again proved invaluable. He stranded a pair of baserunners inherited from Matz and ultimately logged 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
The Mets will have competition for Cuban infielder Yulieski Gourriel. The Yankees plan to work out Gourriel in Tampa, Florida, George King writes in the Post.
Darin Gorski allowed four runs in five innings in his return to Las Vegas after a stint in independent ball. Binghamton snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-6 win against Richmond. Tomas Nido drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 14th as St. Lucie beat Palm Beach, 4-3. Chase Ingram allowed 11 runs in 3 2/3 innings and Augusta routed Columbia, 19-7. Kingsport mustered four hits in a 4-0 loss to Elizabethton. Jacob Zanon’s two-run single lifted Brooklyn past Connecticut, 2-1. Read the full minor-league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Carlos Delgado turns 44. ... Alejandro Pena is 57. … Aaron Sele is 46. … Michael Tucker is 45. … Kane Davis 41. … Cameron Griffin 25.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
Dios Tiene el control.=OGN
— Jose Reyes (@lamelaza_7) June 25, 2016
YOU’RE UP: What position should Reyes play?
LAS VEGAS at RENO: Darin Gorski started for the 51s in his return from independent ball. He allowed four first-inning runs, but then followed with four scoreless frames before departing. Box
BINGHAMTON 7, RICHMOND 6: The B-Mets plated four runs in the first and held off a late surge to stop a six-game losing streak. The Flying Squirrels pulled within one with a two-run eighth. Tyler Horan belted a leadoff homer against Alberto Baldonado. Myles Schroder then reached on third baseman Derrik Gibson's throwing error and scored on Jeff Arnold's single. Beck Wheeler was summoned with one out and struck out Darren Ford. Wheeler then got Christian Arroyo to pop out to preserve a 6-5 lead. Binghamton got an insurance run in the bottom half as Xorge Carrillo walked and scored on a wild pitch. Wheeler allowed an RBI single to Ricky Oropesa in the ninth, but struck out three in the frame to earn his fifth save. B-Mets starter Mickey Jannis (2-7) allowed three runs on four hits and two walks in six innings. Box
ST. LUCIE 4, PALM BEACH 3 (14 innings): With St. Lucie down a run and two outs in the bottom of the 14th, Cardinals reliever Landon Beck walked three batters in a row to send the Mets to the victory. He issued a free pass to Vinny Siena to load the bases. John Mora took ball four on a 3-1 count to force home the tying run. Tomas Nido then walked on four pitches to bring home Champ Stuart with the winning run. The Cardinals had taken a 3-2 lead in the top half. Robby Coles walked Allen Staton to lead off the inning. Staton scored from second on Jhohan Acevedo’s two-out single. Previously, relievers Paul Paez, Corey Taylor and Ben Griset combined for a six scoreless innings. P.J. Conlon allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings in his Florida State League debut. Box
AUGUSTA 19, COLUMBIA 7: Fireflies starter Chase Ingram allowed 11 runs on 11 hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings. Augusta used a seven-run second to take a commanding lead as Jalen Miller hit a three-run homer and Skyler Ewing smoked a grand slam. Patrick Mazeika's two-run homer in the second got Columbia on the scoreboard, but it merely pulled the Fireflies within 9-2. Box
ELIZABETHTON 4, KINGSPORT 0: Jose Miguel Medina had two of the K-Mets' four hits. Kingsport batters also walked nine times but failed to score. Box
BROOKLYN 2, CONNECTICUT 1: Merandy Gonzalez limited the Tigers to one run on four hits and two walks in six innings while striking out eight. Brooklyn grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third. Colby Woodmansee produced a two-out single and Ali Sanchez followed with a ground-rule double. Jacob Zanon then delivered a two-run single to left field to give the Cyclones a 2-0 lead. Bryce Beeler took over for Gonzalez in the seventh and tossed three perfect innings to earn his first save. Beeler has not allowed a hit and has issued one walk while striking out seven in seven innings this season. Box
Compiled with team reports
ATLANTA -- New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz repeatedly rubbed his pitching elbow while in the dugout before taking the mound for the bottom of the fifth inning Friday. Then, his velocity dipped as he surrendered six runs and recorded only one out in the inning.
Still, Matz suggested the elbow tightness he has endured of late was not a factor in his meltdown.
Matz had limited the Braves to one hit in four scoreless innings and had been staked to an 8-0 lead before the six-run fifth.
"I threw a great four innings, and then it just got away from me. But we won the ballgame in the end," said Matz, whose ERA swelled to 3.29. "It's a tough one to swallow there at first, but you've got to wash it. I was just leaving the ball up and they were capitalizing. They were hitting the ball really hard that inning. They had been aggressive the whole game and they got to me."
Manager Terry Collins revealed after Matz's previous start that the southpaw had been dealing with elbow tightness. Matz acknowledged Friday that the issue continues but insisted it is something he can pitch through, and he said it did not negatively affect his performance. He was charged with six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings and did not strike out a batter for the first time in his major league career.
"I just left the ball up. I don't really know why. That's just what happened," Matz said.
Asked if there was an issue with his pitching elbow, Matz added: "Not really. No. It's been tight, but it's fine. I was able to throw the ball fine the first four innings."
ATLANTA -- New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes said he should have no lingering issue after twisting his left ankle while stepping on first base as he was picked off in the seventh inning Friday.
Cespedes added that he never considered leaving the 8-6 win against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Cespedes did the same thing to his left ankle on May 10 at Dodger Stadium while stepping on first base on a pickoff throw. He remained in that game as well and did not miss any subsequent time.
"It bothered me a little once I twisted it at first base, but I'm OK," Cespedes said through an interpreter late Friday. "It's the same foot that I twisted when we played against the Dodgers, but here it was a little lighter."
Cespedes added that he had no concerns the ankle would swell overnight.
He went 1-for-5 and lost a fly ball in center field in his return after a one-game absence. Cespedes had received a cortisone injection Wednesday for a sprained left wrist. He said the wrist felt "good" Friday.
Well, maybe a little is warranted.
The Mets nearly imploded as Steven Matz's velocity dipped in the fifth inning and the Braves chased him while producing six runs in the frame.
Hansel Robles, who rescued the Mets on Tuesday by tossing a career-high 3 2/3 innings once Bartolo Colon departed after four pitches with a bruised right thumb, again helped the Mets avert disaster. Robles replaced Matz and stranded a pair of inherited runners to preserve a two-run lead. Robles ultimately logged 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
"He's been unbelievable," manager Terry Collins said. "... He's bailed us out twice this week."
The Mets had built an 8-0 lead on James Loney's three-run homer in the top of the fifth. However, the Mets had to hold on for dear life in the bottom half to avoid matching the franchise record for largest blown lead. The Mets lost to the Cubs 12-9 at Wrigley Field on April 19, 1980, after leading 9-1.
Matz was charged with six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, which continues a rough stretch for the rookie southpaw. He has a 6.61 ERA in his past three starts.
The Mets disclosed after Matz’s last start that he had been dealing with elbow tightness.
Matz was shown on the SNY telecast rubbing his left elbow in the dugout before taking the mound for the disastrous fifth inning Friday. In the opening four innings, 25 of his 35 fastballs registered 94 mph or better. In the fifth inning, only one of 17 reached that velocity. It was the first start of his career in which he did not record a strikeout.
"He didn't say anything when he came out," Collins said about Matz's elbow. "He was just very disappointed he lost command. He couldn't make any pitches. I'm sure you guys saw on TV -- ball after ball in the middle of the plate."
The Mets had another injury scare to deal with besides Matz’s elbow. Yoenis Cespedes twisted his left ankle while stepping on first base as he was picked off in the seventh inning. Cespedes limped off the field with an escort from trainer Ray Ramirez, but completed the game. Cespedes returned to the lineup Friday after missing a game with a sprained left wrist, which required a cortisone injection Wednesday. He had lost a fly ball off the bat of Nick Markakis in Atlanta’s six-run fifth inning -- playing a fly out into a double.
The Mets still held on for their first win in five games against the last-place Braves in the past week. The eight runs produced by the Mets on Friday exceeded their total in the previous four games against Atlanta (seven).
With Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins unavailable because of their recent workloads, Antonio Bastardo opened the eighth. When Bastardo surrendered a two-out double to Nick Markakis that brought the tying run to the plate, Collins summoned Jeurys Familia for a four-out save.
Familia succeeded despite allowing the first two batters of the ninth to reach -- thanks in part to a baserunning blunder by the Braves on a sacrifice-bunt attempt, which resulted in a double play. He established a new franchise record with his 25th save in 25 attempts to begin the season. Armando Benitez was 24-for-24 to open 2001.
What’s next: Jacob deGrom (3-4, 2.96 ERA) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (3-7, 2.66) on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET. Teheran tossed a one-hit shutout against the Mets last weekend at Citi Field. DeGrom is winless in his past nine starts. The Mets have scored a total of two runs in the four games started by deGrom in June.