By Troy Provost-Heron and Michael Kolligian
ST. PETERSBURG -- Richie Shaffer came up big on Sunday, delivering the game-winning solo home run in the seventh inning to lift the Rays past the Mets, 4-3, and take two of three in the series.
Making his first appearance at Tropicana Field, the Rays' rookie not only slugged the eventual game-winning blast, but ignited the Tampa Bay offense in each of its run-scoring innings to rally from an early 3-0 hole.
In each of his two at-bats before the home run, Shaffer got on base to lead off the inning and came around to score to help the Rays take back-to-back series for the first time since June 17-21 (at Washington and vs. Cleveland).
"That was a great series," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "[There was] a lot of energy in the building. That's fun to play in front of, and just the overall games. There was a lot of good pitching, a lot of big hits. It didn't disappoint today."
Chris Archer was tagged for three runs in the second, but was able to rebound and go six innings for the Rays, with 10 strikeouts while receiving a no-decision. Bartolo Colon took the loss for the Mets after allowing four runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Deja vu: On Saturday, the Rays erased an early 3-0 deficit en route to a 5-4 victory over the Mets, and on Sunday they managed to accomplish the same feat. After the Mets put up a three-spot in the second, John Jaso chipped away with a sacrifice fly in the third, and then brought the Rays all the way back with a two-run double in the fifth.
"There have been points in the season where we're down a few runs and you can feel some uneasiness, but these past few games, it seems like there's been no deficit that's affected us," Archer said. "We've gone out there and we put up runs. Even with [Nathan] Karns yesterday, that weird start to his game and the weird second inning for me, nobody was down or upset.
"They knew that we could get to the starting pitcher and they trusted me to do what I'm capable of doing and I love that." More >
Soon-to-be household name: Shaffer had himself a first home game to remember on Sunday. Starting as the Rays designated hitter, the 24-year-old rookie began his day by grabbing the Rays first hit of the contest with a single in the third, and then he kicked off a fifth-inning rally by singling to lead off the frame. Then, with things deadlocked at 3, Shaffer belted a go-ahead solo home run to left field in the seventh to propel Tampa Bay to victory. More >
Walk and roll: For the second consecutive game, the Mets broke out to an early 3-0 lead after working Archer for four free passes in the second inning. The Mets' lone hit of the frame, a two-out single by Daniel Murphy, plated two of their three runs. Murphy has now hit safely in six straight games, going 11 for 25 [.444] with three doubles, two home runs and four RBIs.
Colon in control: The Mets' right-hander didn't allow a walk during his 6 2/3 innings of work, marking the fourth consecutive start that Colon hasn't surrendered a free pass -- currently the longest such streak in Major League Baseball. The 42-year-old veteran now boasts an MLB-leading 13 starts without a walk this season, matching the Mets' single-season record set by Bret Saberhagen in 1994. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rays have homered in a season-high eight straight games, which is their longest streak since April 15-May 3, 2013, when they homered in 17 consecutive contests.
With two away in the top of the seventh, Curtis Granderson hit a weak chopper to second baseman Logan Forsythe, who barehanded the ball and fired to first to get Granderson on a bang-bang play. The Mets opted to challenge the call, and after a delay of 48 seconds, the call was overturned and Granderson was ruled safe.
In the ninth, Jake McGee grazed Juan Lagares on the arm with a 0-1 fastball. The Rays challenged the ruling of hit by pitch, but after a 46-second delay, the call was confirmed.
Mets:Jon Niese (6-9, 3.51 ERA) will take the ball on Monday at Citi Field when the Mets open a four-game series with the Rockies at 7:10 p.m. ET. Niese has produced a quality start in 10 of his last 11 trips to the hill, including a seven-inning gem in Miami last Tuesday that saw the 28-year-old lefty hold the Marlins to one run on four hits in a 5-1 Mets' victory.
Rays:Erasmo Ramirez (8-4, 3.83 ERA) will take the mound in the Rays' series opener against the Braves on Tuesday at Tropicana Field at 7:10 p.m. ET. Earlier this season, the right-hander faced off against Atlanta at Turner Field and earned a win after allowing three runs on two hits in five innings.