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NEW YORK (AP) — In one month, Joe Kelly has gone from total disappointment to the top of the rotation.
Kelly won his sixth straight outing, recovering nicely from a rocky start to outpitch Jacob deGrom and lead the Boston Red Sox over the New York Mets 3-1 Saturday.
"It's been a big point of emphasis that no matter what team we're facing, I have to throw off-speed. Throwing all fastballs, obviously that hasn't worked out," Kelly said.
Mookie Betts homered and scored twice as the last-place Red Sox won for the eighth time in 11 games. They have taken the first two this weekend at Citi Field after the NL East-leading Mets returned from an 8-1 road trip.
"Our youngsters came in here and they're growing up before our very eyes," interim manager Torey Lovullo said.
New York has dropped five in a row at home, its worst skid of the season.
"We've been smashing the ball and today, the last two games, we have not. Today we looked a little tired," manager Terry Collins said. "We've been dragging a little bit.
"We're going to be fine," he added. "We just had a blip and we've got to pick it up."
After giving up a leadoff double and throwing 30 pitches in the first, Kelly (8-6) settled in and shut down the Mets.
Sporting his large goggles and a black mustache, he gave up five hits over 7 1-3 innings — matching his career high.
"He was outstanding," teammate David Ortiz said. "He's going to keep improving."
The right-hander, demoted to the minors in June, became the first Red Sox pitcher to go 6-0 in a month since Pedro Martinez in May 1999. The last to do it in August was Roger Clemens in 1990.
"The way he did it wasn't how you draw it up," Lovullo said. "He lasted longer in this game than deGrom did. If you were to tell me that was the case after the first inning, I never would have believed it."
The only damage against Kelly came in the seventh on Juan Uribe's RBI double. Pablo Sandoval made a diving play at third base to prevent another run.
The rest of Kelly's winning streak came with part-time catcher Ryan Hanigan behind the plate — and Kelly credited Hanigan for his stark turnaround. But this time it was rookie Blake Swihart catching after Hanigan was scratched from the lineup an hour before the game with tightness in his right calf.
Jean Machi pitched a perfect ninth for his third save, one day after the Red Sox used all seven relievers in a 10-inning victory.
Last season's NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom (12-7) rebounded from a bout of food poisoning that perhaps contributed to the worst start of his two-year career Monday at Philadelphia. On Saturday, he struck out 10 in six innings, yielding two runs and four hits.
"I felt good today, especially early on. I just struggled there a little bit in the sixth inning," deGrom said. "It was just one of those days where they were battling me pretty good."
Sandoval snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth with an RBI double after Betts' leadoff single.
Later in the inning, Brock Holt knocked in a run with a groundout when fill-in Mets first baseman Daniel Murphy tried for a double play instead of throwing to the plate. It appeared Murphy could have had Sandoval hung up between third and home.
Betts homered on an 0-2 pitch from Hansel Robles in the seventh.
Red Sox: Ortiz, who came out of Friday night's game with tightness in his left heel, doubled off the center-field wall as a pinch hitter in the ninth. Shaken up a bit after jogging into second and barely beating the play, he was immediately removed for a pinch runner. But he's expected back at first base Sunday, Lovullo said. ... LF Hanley Ramirez (sore right shoulder) sat out a second consecutive game. His work on transitioning to first base is temporarily on hold but will continue, Lovullo said. ... Rookie OF Rusney Castillo got a planned day off before running for Ortiz. LF Alejandro De Aza made his first start since Aug. 19. ... RHP Junichi Tazawa (hip, groin) was unavailable out of the bullpen. ... Lovullo said the team is discussing whether to use a six-man rotation at some point to help manage innings for rookie starters Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez. ... Hanigan will be re-evaluated Sunday.
Mets: 3B David Wright was rested after playing consecutive extra-inning games the previous two nights.
MOOKIE TIMES TWO
The teams were trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Betts and former Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson, who was at the ballpark. The timing didn't work out because Betts was busy during batting practice — but hopefully Sunday, the Red Sox said.
Rookie RHP Noah Syndergaard (8-6), who turned 23 on Saturday, pitches the series finale for the Mets. He is 7-1 with a 1.82 ERA in nine home starts but has given up at least one homer in five consecutive outings overall. LHP Wade Miley (10-10) takes the ball for Boston after allowing a career-high 13 hits Tuesday in a loss at the Chicago White Sox.
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