Jacob deGrom was simply overpowering. Almost perfect, too.
The reigning NL Rookie of the Year retired his final 23 batters following a first-inning single, and Lucas Duda hit two long homers to nearly the same spot Thursday during the New York Mets' 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
''I knew I had good command of my pitches - all of them,'' said deGrom, who never even went to a three-ball count.
The slender righty struck out 11 over eight dominant innings, shrugging off a tender hip and stiff shoulder that had bothered him recently.
In his latest stingy start at Citi Field, the only blemish was Matt Carpenter's clean single with one out in the first.
''It happened so early, I mean it's hard to look back and have any regrets about that,'' deGrom said. ''I honestly didn't think about it. I knew I hadn't been in the stretch in a while so I was just thinking, go right after guys.''
Michael Cuddyer had his first three-hit game of the season and also walked for a perfect day at the plate. John Mayberry Jr. put the slumping Mets lineup on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the fourth.
Besides the single by Carpenter, the lone Cardinals hitter to reach base was Kolten Wong with a two-out single off Jeurys Familia in the ninth. The lack of offense left Jaime Garcia little chance to win his first major league start since last June.
The shaggy-haired deGrom (5-4) posted his fifth double-digit strikeout game and first since Sept. 21 at Atlanta. He is 10-1 with a 1.19 ERA in his past 12 starts at Citi Field, giving him a 1.50 ERA in 16 career home games.
''I knew we were cruising out there, that's for sure,'' rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki said. ''I could tell in the bullpen that he was locked in. ... He just had it all working.''
Blown out the previous two nights, New York managed a four-game split in a series that matched the top two pitching staffs in the majors.
Duda's solo shot off Garcia (0-1) in the sixth cleared the shed-like canopy that shelters visiting relievers behind the 380-foot sign on the right-center fence.
The big slugger did it again in the eighth, hammering Randy Choate's only pitch for a three-run drive that came down on the canopy roof.
''Amazing,'' Cuddyer said. ''We needed them, that's for sure.''
Garcia won 13 games in both 2010 and 2011, helping the Cardinals to a World Series title four years ago. But injuries have derailed his promising career, and he had been sidelined since having thoracic outlet surgery last July to alleviate numbness and tingling in his pitching arm and hand.
Making his first big league appearance since June 20, the 28-year-old lefty walked five and flirted with danger all day. But he limited the damage to two runs in seven innings, thanks in large part to four double plays turned behind him.
''I got outs when I needed to get outs, big situations, but unfortunately that wasn't good enough,'' Garcia said. ''I'm here. I'm going to compete.''
LEFT ON LEFT
Duda is hitting .409 in 44 at-bats against left-handers this year with four of his five homers and six extra-base hits.
''Essentially just kind of stay short and take what they give you,'' he said.
It's quite a turnaround from last season, when he batted .180 vs. southpaws with two homers and four extra-base hits in 111 at-bats. New York manager Terry Collins thinks Duda's winter chat with former Mets star and current broadcaster Keith Hernandez has made a difference.
''I'm not taking credit for it. He's doing it on his own,'' Hernandez said.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Mets are 17-6 at Citi Field, matching the best home start in franchise history (1971 and `72).
Cardinals: To make room for Garcia, activated from the 15-day disabled list, St. Louis optioned rookie reliever Sam Tuivailala to Triple-A Memphis.
Mets: Collins said he thought rehabbing relievers Bobby Parnell (Tommy John surgery) and Vic Black (shoulder, neck) might pitch once more in Florida before moving to Double-A Binghamton. ... RHP Dillon Gee (groin strain) was scheduled to make another rehab start Thursday night for Class A St. Lucie at Dunedin.
Mets: Following a 4-3 homestand, the Mets play three games in Pittsburgh before returning to Citi Field next week. RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-1, 3.18 ERA) makes his third major league start Friday night, opposing Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (5-2, 2.40) in a juicy matchup of hard-throwing youngsters with high expectations. ''It'll be exciting,'' Syndergaard said.
Link to box score: New York Mets (24-18) 5, St. Louis (27-14) 0