ST. PETERSBURG -- After blowing a pair of leads in the series-opening loss on Friday, the Rays' bullpen bounced right back with one of its stronger performances of the season in a 5-4 victory over the Mets on Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
"We don't expect anything less," manager Kevin Cash said. "I know that it was a rough night last night, but it's a good thing you get to come back and play the next day. That's kind of what shows quality bullpen guys."
The bullpen kicked into action after starter Nathan Karns, who eventually picked up his seventh win of the season, allowed four runs on eight hits, while striking out eight in five innings.
Xavier Cedeno started the sixth by striking out the side in what should have been a 1-2-3 inning, but the Mets were able to get a runner aboard. Kelly Johnson swung at a curveball that got away from catcher Rene Rivera and he reached first on the wild pitch. Johnson, though, would be the last Mets hitter to reach base.
Steve Geltz tossed a perfect seventh inning and Jake McGee, who allowed a game-tying home run to Daniel Murphy in the eighth inning on Friday, followed suit by striking out the side in order on 13 pitches.
"I was just locating really well, in and out, and then I was able to throw my high fastball where I wanted it, and that kind of helped me out a bit," McGee said. "I haven't really faced these guys as much, so I was just able to use all the stuff I usually do."
Finally, closer Brad Boxberger, who took the loss in each of the Rays' past two games, capped the bullpen's successful night by setting the Mets down in order in the ninth to record his 28th save of the season.
"Everyone was back on track today," Boxberger said. "We were throwing strikes and getting ahead of guys early, and that definitely changed the results that we had."
Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.