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Mets avoid sweep to Nationals

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NEW YORK—Toting his toddler around the clubhouse post-game, 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 one-year-old Jaxon and his own dad in the ballpark, deGrom put on quite a performance yesterday.

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 Chicago Cubs, deGrom turned in a complete effort—excelling with his arm, bat, and glove.

“It was awesome,” he said.

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 totalling 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,” said Nationals' manager Dusty Baker.

“We knew he was going to be tough going into today because they didn't want to be swept at home.”

DeGrom mixed his fastball, slider, and change-up well, fanned Bryce Harper with a 97 m.p.h. 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-centre.

“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 'AAA' 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 back to a loss when Jason Isringhausen connected in 1996, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

T.J. Rivera had four hits for the Mets.

A pop-up 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—that led 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 now safely has reached base in all 29 games he's played against the Mets.

Elsewhere in the NL, L.A. topped Cincinnati 8-7, Arizona edged Philadelphia 5-4 (10 innings), Atlanta nipped Miami 5-4, Chicago dumped Pittsburgh 7-1, Milwaukee shaded San Diego 2-1, and Colorado downed San Francisco 7-5.

Baltimore beat St. Louis 8-5 in interleague play.

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