By GEORGE HENRY
ATLANTA (AP) — Jacob deGrom is giving up home runs and struggling with his control at the moment.
Even the ace right-hander isn’t exactly sure what’s going on.
DeGrom had another tough start Sunday night, and the New York Mets lost 7-3 to Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves.
“I’m not really throwing the ball where I want to right now,” deGrom said. “Kind of cutting the fastball, yanking the slider, changeup is good at times but at other times it’s not. I don’t know if it’s something mechanical. I’ll have to get in there and figure it out.”
Josh Donaldson and Nick Markakis homered as Atlanta won for the fifth time in its last seven games. Markakis and Donaldson also connected during Saturday’s 11-7 victory over New York.
Teheran (2-1) improved to 10-7 with a 2.35 ERA in 26 career games against the Mets. He gave up one run and six hits in six innings.
It was a second straight losing performance for deGrom, who has allowed five homers in his last two starts. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner gave up 10 homers all of last season, but was taken deep 28 times two years ago.
Markakis homered in the second and Donaldson added another solo shot in the fifth.
“I felt good warming up, felt good the first couple of innings,” deGrom said. “Even the pitch Nick hit, it was a good pitch. I honestly went and looked at that and don’t really know how he kept it fair. He just got to it and was able to hit it. On Donaldson, that ball was supposed to be in and I left it over the middle.”
DeGrom labored throughout, throwing 71 of 114 pitches for strikes in five innings. He struck out nine, but allowed three runs and issued four walks.
The Braves grabbed a 2-1 lead on Ronald Acuña Jr.’s RBI single in the third. DeGrom’s highlight of the night was a strikeout of Ender Inciarte to escape a bases-loaded jam to end the inning.
Charlie Culberson’s two-run drive made it 5-1 in the sixth. It was Culberson’s fifth career pinch-hit homer.
DeGrom (2-2) had allowed three runs in just one of his previous 17 career starts against Atlanta. But he struggled with first-pitch strikes and fell behind hitters most of the night.
“Some of the best pitchers in the game are in our division,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s kind of nothing new. He is such a competitor. His stuff is so good, and guys battle really hard when they play him.”
J.D. Davis’ third homer gave the Mets a 1-0 lead in the second. New York made it 6-3 in the eighth on RBI singles by Amed Rosario and Keon Broxton.
Donaldson added an RBI single in the eighth. He has an extra-base hit in a career high-tying five straight games and is batting .385 over his last 26 at-bats.
“We said it’s been the last five or six days that even the outs have been loud and really hard,” Snitker said. “You just get that feeling that he’s fixing to start something really good.”
Mets: Manager Mickey Callaway wouldn’t say whether 3B Todd Frazier will rejoin the team during the next series. Frazier (left oblique strain) is scheduled to play nine innings Monday at Single-A St. Lucie.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz will make his third rehab start Monday for Triple-A Gwinnett and could rejoin the rotation next weekend in Cleveland. He has been sidelined with a bone spur in his elbow.
DEMOTED AND AILING
The Braves optioned left-hander Sean Newcomb to Gwinnett and put right-hander Arodys Vizcaino on the injured list.
Newcomb, a fixture in the rotation since June 2017, has frustrated the team with inconsistency. Vizcaino is out with right shoulder inflammation. He has been injured several times in his career and felt pain while warming up Saturday night.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-1, 4.74 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Philadelphia. In 10 career starts against the Phillies, Syndergaard is 5-3 with a 3.23 ERA.
Braves: The team has yet to announce its probable starters for a three-game series against Arizona that begins Tuesday, but Max Fried, Kevin Gausman and Touki Toussaint are likely up next. Fried (2-0) has allowed one unearned run in two starts, a span of 12 innings. He hasn’t pitched since last Tuesday at Colorado.
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