By Troy Provost-Heron and Michael Kolligian
ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria legged out a critical two-out infield single to plate the go-ahead run in the fourth and the bullpen returned to form with four scoreless innings to lead the Rays to a 5-4 victory over the Mets on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
The two offenses -- both ranking near the bottom of the Majors in runs this season -- got off to a fiery start, combining for seven runs in the first. Curtis Granderson knotted the score at 4 in the second with his second home run of the game, but it proved to be one of the last threats by the Mets' offense.
Longoria's legs proved to be the difference as he beat out a weakly hit ground ball that shortstop Ruben Tejada bobbled in the fourth, allowing John Jaso, who singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, to score. Shortly after, the Rays' bullpen kicked into action in the sixth, allowing just one baserunner. Starter Nathan Karns went five innings, surrendering four runs on eight hits while striking out eight.
"Unbelievable comeback for our guys after the 3-0 deficit early on," manager Kevin Cash said. "We talk about character all the time and they prove it consistently, and against an extremely talented pitcher … kind of fitting that we take the lead on a hustle play by Evan Longoria. Lot of good things tonight. The guys bounced back from a tough loss last night, and it was great to see."
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard took his sixth loss of the season after allowing five runs on eight hits in four innings, with Grady Sizemore's two-run blast being a key blow in the Rays' four-run first.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Grand opening: Granderson wasted little time staking the Mets to an early advantage, driving the second pitch of the game over the center-field wall for a 1-0 lead. The home run was the 34th leadoff blast of Granderson's career and sixth of the year, matching a Mets single-season record also held by Jose Reyes (2006). Granderson is now tied with the Twins' Brian Dozier for the Major League lead in leadoff round-trippers.
Thor of the same: Syndergaard continued to struggle away from Citi Field, allowing five earned runs on eight hits in four innings. After being staked to a three-run lead in the first inning, the 22-year-old rookie allowed four runs in the bottom of the frame, including Kevin Kiermaier's two-run single. Syndergaard is now 0-5 with a 5.01 ERA in eight road starts. More >
"I feel just as comfortable as when I'm home," Syndergaard said. "You've got the home crowd there so it makes it a little bit easier to pitch, but I don't feel any different between home and road. Preparation's a little different because you're home and you're used to certain things.
"It's just something that I'm going to have to learn to deal with."
Got your back: Karns, who picked up his seventh victory, surrendered a three-spot in the top of the first, but the Rays' offense quickly picked its starter up, tallying four runs on six hits in the bottom half. The six-hit first was the most hits the Rays have recorded in an inning since June 29, 2014, at Baltimore, when they strung together seven hits in a seven-run sixth inning. It was also the most hits they have recorded in a first inning since they cobbled together six in Toronto on Sept. 29, 2013.
"I didn't [settle in] today, the offense did and they came back and put four on the board," Karns said. "With them coming back with a four-spot, that's huge. It just put me right back in the game, picks me back up, and I really owe the offense today."
Bullpen bounces back: After taking the loss in two consecutive games, the Rays' bullpen looked more like itself on Saturday, taking over in the sixth inning for Karns and keeping the Mets hitless across four innings, including a perfect ninth for Brad Boxberger, who recorded his 28th save of the season. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch for the fourth consecutive game, a new Rays record which was previously held by Josh Phelps (three in 2005).
WHAT'S NEXT Mets: Right-hander Bartolo Colon (10-10, 4.72 ERA) is slated to start the finale of this three-game road set on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET. He will be facing the Rays for the first time since 2012.
Rays: All-Star Chris Archer (10-8, 2.54) will get the ball on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET for the finale of this series at Tropicana Field. The right-hander is 3-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 13 home starts this season.