NEW YORK — All of a sudden, the New York Mets are having a tough time at home.
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 leaders returned from an 8-1 road trip.
"We've been smashing the ball and today, the last two games, we have not. Today we looked a little tired," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We've been dragging a little bit."
New York has dropped five in a row at home, its worst skid this season, to fall to 42-23 at Citi Field.
"We're going to be fine," Collins added. "We just had a blip and we've got to pick it up."
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. This time, he struck out 10 in six innings while yielding two runs and four hits.
"I felt good today, especially early on. I just struggled there a little bit in the sixth," deGrom said. "It was just one of those days where they were battling me pretty good."
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.
"The way he did it wasn't how you draw it up," interim manager Torey 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."
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.
"Our youngsters came in here and they're growing up before our very eyes," Lovullo said.
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 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.
Third baseman David Wright was rested after playing consecutive extra-inning games the previous two nights. Wright returned Monday after missing more than four months with spinal stenosis, and the Mets want to be careful with their captain. ... With the bullpen taxed, 42-year-old starter Bartolo Colon worked a scoreless ninth inning on his regular throw day. It was his first relief appearance since April 14, 2011, with the Yankees.
With the Red Sox making their first regular-season visit to Citi Field, the Mets have taken the opportunity to celebrate their 1986 World Series win over Boston. They gave away bobbleheads of reliever Jesse Orosco celebrating the final out and showed highlights of the October triumph 29 years ago.
Orosco was the answer to a trivia question on the ballpark video board, and received a huge ovation when he stunned an overwhelmed fan by personally delivering the prize in the stands. The standing-room-only crowd of 43,255 was the second-largest in the regular season at 7-year-old Citi Field, behind opening day in April (43,947).
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.
With the U.S. Open getting set to start next door, tennis great John McEnroe threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Wearing a No. 1 Mets jersey with his name on the back, the New Yorker made an accurate toss from the top of the mound.
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.