OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Chris Bassitt pitched eight sharp innings in his return to Oakland, Eduardo Escobar hit a grand slam and the New York Mets extended their lead in the NL East by beating the Athletics 9-2 on Friday night.

Brandon Nimmo and Mark Vientos each added a pair of RBIs to move the Mets 2 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta in the division. The Braves lost 9-1 in Philadelphia.

New York has won seven of eight games to open a little cushion in the tight division race before traveling to Atlanta for three games next weekend. The Mets are also assured of the top wild-card spot if they lose the division, guaranteeing they would host the best-of-three wild-card round if they finish behind the Braves.

Bassitt (15-8), traded by Oakland to the Mets before the season, shut down his old team, allowing two runs and six hits. Bassitt’s 2.43 ERA in 41 starts at the Coliseum is third best to Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue among players with at least 20 starts there.

Bassitt got all the support he needed in a three-run second thanks to an RBI single by Vientos and a two-run single by Nimmo against Cole Irvin (9-12).

Escobar put it away in the fifth when he sent the first pitch he saw into the left-field seats to clear the bases with his first career slam.

Irvin allowed eight runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

The A’s matched a franchise record with their 50th loss of the season at the Coliseum, equaling their total from the 1979 season. They have five home games remaining.

HONORING CHAVEZ

Mets hitting coach Eric Chavez was honored before the game by being inducted into the A’s Hall of Fame. Chavez spent 13 seasons in Oakland, winning six Gold Gloves at third base and hitting at least 20 homers seven straight seasons.

“It’s pretty cool,” Chavez said. “The history here in Oakland goes pretty deep and a lot of good players that have come through here.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: Nimmo was back in the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game following the first inning because an injured left quadriceps. An MRI came back clean and Nimmo tested it out before the game before going into the lineup. Nimmo had three hits.

A’s: RHP Joel Payamps was placed on the 15-day IL with a strained lumbar muscle. …Oakland claimed INF Ernie Clement off waivers from Cleveland and recalled LHP Sam Selman from Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

Jacob deGrom (5-2, 2.32) takes the mound for the Mets after becoming the only pitcher to strike out at least 13 batters with no walks in five innings in his previous start. Ken Waldichuk (0-2, 7.13) starts for Oakland.

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