By BEN WALKER
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Toting his toddler around the clubhouse postgame, Jacob deGrom joked about the Father’s Day present he gave himself — the souvenir ball from his first big league home run.
“I think I got lucky,” the New York Mets ace said.
With 1-year-old Jaxon and his own dad in the ballpark, deGrom put on quite a performance Sunday. He shut down a bruising Washington Nationals lineup on three singles for eight dominant innings and also delivered the loudest hit in a 5-1 win that prevented a four-game sweep.
Fresh off pitching the Mets’ first complete game of the season in his previous start against the Cubs, deGrom turned in a complete effort, excelling with his arm, bat and glove.
“It was awesome,” is how he summed it up.
The NL East-leading Nationals had been 6-0 at Citi Field this season and had battered the Mets in three games this week, never trailing while totaling 18 extra-base hits. But they had trouble touching the blue-stitched balls — used all around Major League Baseball on Father’s Day — thrown by deGrom (6-3).
“You’ve got to put it on deGrom. We knew he was going to be tough going into today because they didn’t want to be swept at home,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said.
DeGrom mixed his fastball, slider and changeup well, fanned Bryce Harper with a 97 mph heater on his 105th and last pitch and walked off to a standing ovation. The right-hander struck out six and walked two, and the only run against him was unearned.
A career .199 hitter in 176 at-bats coming in, deGrom also provided the biggest jolt. He hit the first pitch of the third inning from Joe Ross (3-3) over the wall in left-center.
“I was running pretty hard,” deGrom said. “I didn’t know it was gone.”
The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, a converted infielder at Stetson University, kept holding down his helmet as he rounded the bases, making sure it didn’t fly off his flyaway hair.
The ball sat in a display box, on the top shelf of his locker, by the end of the game. He said the prize was destined for his dad, Tony.
DeGrom’s lone pro homer had been for Triple-A Las Vegas in 2013. He said he used injured captain David Wright’s bat for this drive, having tried it once before and playfully describing the lumber as “a good bunting bat.”
DeGrom later put down a sacrifice, too, setting up an RBI single by Michael Conforto.
The victory made the Mets 17-0 when their pitcher homers, dating to a loss when Jason Isringhausen connected in 1996, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
T.J. Rivera had four hits for the Mets. A popup that Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy lost in the sun set up two New York runs in the fourth for a 3-1 lead.
Trea Turner stole four bases, setting a Nationals record. Harper extended his hitting streak to 11 games — matching his longest in a single season — leading to Ryan Zimmerman’s sacrifice fly in the first.
DeGrom made a nifty play in the fourth, charging in to grab Murphy’s tapper and throwing out his former teammate. Murphy doubled in the ninth off reliever Addison Reed and has safely reached base in all 29 games he’s played against the Mets.
∫ DAYTIME DEGROM: DeGrom is 16-4 with a 1.71 ERA in 32 career daytime starts. … Nationals teammates Anthony Rendon and Michael A. Taylor both were hitless in three at-bats against him — Rendon is 0 for 16 lifetime vs. deGrom and Taylor is 0 for 14.
∫ TURNER BURNER: Turner is 26 for 31 on steal tries, putting the leadoff man three behind Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton for the major league lead. He said first base coach Davey Lopes, who swiped 557 bases in the majors, had given him a key piece of advice.
“Tell me to run. For me, it’s all about confidence, he gives you the confidence to run, but that’s something I’ve never really had,” Turner said. “I’ve had coaches that give you the green light, but it was always on me. He’s pushing me to run and that’s huge for me personally.”
∫ TRAINER’S ROOM: Nationals: RHP Shawn Kelley was put on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained muscle in his upper right back. The reliever is 3-2 with four saves and a 7.00 ERA in 22 games, giving up nine homers in 18 innings. He was on the DL in May with a lower back strain. RHP A.J. Cole was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.
Mets: Star LF Yoenis Cespedes got a planned day off after starting three straight games. He spent six weeks on the DL with a strained hamstring and returned last weekend.