Jacob deGrom stumbles as Mets fall to Jose Fernandez and Marlins

MIAMI -- Jacob deGrom's recent string of success came crashing to a halt thanks in part to Giancarlo Stanton.

In the second-shortest start of his career, deGrom tossed 94 pitches while lasting only 3 2/3 innings, and the Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 7-2 Saturday at Marlins Park.

The Mets (51-45) dropped 1 1/2 games behind the Marlins (53-44) for the second wild-card spot.

Stanton belted a two-run homer and added an RBI single against deGrom en route to a 4-for-5 night. The last three homers surrendered by deGrom have come off Stanton's bat. No other batter has more than two career homers against deGrom.

Stanton now has six homers and 12 RBIs in 10 games against the Mets this season. Despite being only 26 years old, Stanton has the fourth-most homers among active players against the Mets with 27, trailing only Ryan Howard (46), Chase Utley (38) and unemployed Jimmy Rollins (33).

After Mets reliever Seth Lugo entered the game for deGrom and issued a bases-loaded walk to force in a run, the starter was charged with five runs on 10 hits and one walk in 3 2/3 innings. DeGrom had been 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in his last four starts and was coming off a one-hit shutout in Philadelphia -- his first career complete game.

“I wasn’t very good today, and pretty much everything I threw seemed to go down the middle and I paid for it,” deGrom said. “That one is on me.”

Fernandez improved to 26-1 lifetime at Marlins Park.

The Mets had a chance to claw back against Fernandez. Trailing 5-2 in the fifth, they loaded the bases with one out. However, James Loney’s fly ball was too shallow for a sacrifice fly and Asdrubal Cabrera struck out.

Cabrera is now 0-for-his-last-31 with runners in scoring position. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the longest active drought among MLB position players and six shy of matching the Mets' overall franchise record -- 0-for-37 by Gregg Jefferies in 1990 (and also by starter Tom Seaver from 1971 to '73).

“This game is not easy,” Cabrera said. “What I can do is keep working hard and try to get better.”

Fernandez's two-out RBI single against deGrom (6-5) in the second inning opened the scoring. DeGrom answered with a leadoff double against Fernandez in the top of the third. The Mets ultimately took a 2-1 lead that frame on Yoenis Cespedes' RBI single and Loney's sacrifice fly. But it was short-lived. Stanton belted the two-run homer against deGrom in the bottom of the third as Miami retook the lead.

The only shorter start in deGrom's career came on Aug. 24, 2015 at Philadelphia, when he lasted 2 2/3 innings.

DeGrom's velocity dived late in his outing, but he suggested that was a product of his volume of pitches in such a short period of time.

“It doesn’t help when you throw 30 pitches an inning,” deGrom said. “If it’s spaced out -- you get to 100 pitches and it’s spaced out between seven or eight [innings] -- it seems to be a lot easier. You get a little rest time in there.”

Center of attention: After delivering a pinch-hit single for the Mets in the sixth, Michael Conforto remained in the game in center field with the Mets trailing by four runs. It marked Conforto's first time at the position in his professional career.

Manager Terry Collins planned to wait until the Mets returned to Citi Field to introduce Conforto to center field, but the 6-2 deficit afforded the manager the opportunity to give Conforto his first exposure. He had one uneventful chance.

“It was one fly ball,” Conforto said. “But as far as how it felt out there, I felt pretty comfortable. I’m just going to be getting more work at it every single day.”

The Mets plan to use Conforto in center because they want to restrict Cespedes to left field due to a balky right quadriceps, and the team does not believe Curtis Granderson still has the range to handle center. Granderson was a center fielder until he reached the twilight of his career.

What's next: Steven Matz (7-6, 3.56 ERA) opposes right-hander Jose Urena (1-1, 6.23) in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. ET rubber game.