By Troy Provost-Heron and Michael Kolligian
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wilmer Flores delivered a go-ahead, two-out single in the ninth to give the Mets a 4-3 series-opening victory over the Rays on Friday at Tropicana Field.
Friday's contest had been dominated by home runs, with the Rays hitting three solo shots and the Mets hitting a pair of their own, but the weakest RBI hit of the night proved to be the most crucial as Flores' single to right field capped off a two-run ninth that gave New York its seventh victory in a row.
The pivotal ninth inning came with Brad Boxberger on the mound, marking his third blown save of the season -- his first since June 13 -- and his eighth loss of the year, which is the most among Major League relievers.
Jacob deGrom got a no-decision after surrendering six hits -- two of which were the homers -- over 6 1/3 innings. Jake Odorizzi also earned a no-decision after allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six in 6 2/3 innings.
"We ended up on the wrong side of a very exciting ballgame, I would imagine for the people that watched," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It was exciting in the dugout. Home runs, just an unbelievable pitching performance by Jake to limit them the way he did. There wasn't a lot of hitting going on on either side, but the hits were big."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Comeback kids: Solo blasts by Juan Uribe in the seventh inning and Daniel Murphy in the eighth erased one-run Tampa Bay leads and kept the Mets in the game. Michael Conforto's clutch double knotted things in the ninth, and later in the frame, Flores' two-out single plated Conforto with the game-winner. The Mets have now homered in nine of their last 10 games.
"Tonight was pure character," said Mets manager Terry Collins moments after the game. "I can't say enough. They know it means something, that these games are big and they're ready to play." More >
Sizemore does it all: Grady Sizemore had an eventful first part of the game as he gave the Rays an early 1-0 lead with a home run to right field in the fourth inning and then in the sixth, ranged to his right and was able to reach over the short fence in the left-field corner to rob Flores of a game-tying home run.
"Without that play and without his bat, we wouldn't have been in the position we were, so today was a great day for Grady," Odorizzi said. "Someone steps up for us every single day and he's been great for us since he's been up and down and it's pretty special." More >
Rays power up:Evan Longoria, James Loney and Sizemore each slugged a solo home run which gave the Rays the lead each time. For Loney and Sizemore, it was only the fourth home runs they have each hit this season, while Longoria hit his 13th of the year and went deep for the second straight game.
Not so deGrom-inant: The Mets' right-hander, who was tagged for two home runs along with a pair of doubles, was hit unusually hard Friday night. Coming into the contest, deGrom had surrendered no more than two extra-base hits in each of his previous 16 starts, tying him with Matt Harvey for the eighth-longest such streak in club history.
"I threw a lot of pitches early. A lot of 3-2 counts which I normally don't do and my pitch count got up pretty quick. I left a couple of balls over the middle, but other than that I felt I threw the ball all right," said deGrom. More >
"That's going to be one of many, because he's a good hitter and he's going to be a real good player." -- Collins on Conforto, whose clutch, ninth-inning double knotted the score at 3
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mets have now won four consecutive road games for the first time since Sept. 7-21 of 2014.
It was the first time in franchise history that the Mets have overcome deficits in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to win a ballgame, according to The Elias Sports Bureau.
Mets:Noah Syndergaard (6-5, 2.66 ERA) will take the ball on Saturday evening when the Mets and Rays resume their three-game series at Tropicana Field at 6:10 p.m. ET. The 22-year-old rookie -- who recorded the biggest win of his young career on Sunday against the Nationals -- has compiled a 6-3 record and 1.80 ERA in his last nine starts, striking out 66 while walking 14 in 60 innings of work.
Rays:Nathan Karns (6-5, 3.37 ERA) will get the start for the Rays and will make his first career start against the Mets. In two Interleague starts this season -- April 12 at Miami and July 21 at Philadelphia -- he is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, which is the fifth-lowest Interleague ERA in the Majors.