Rays' bats, pitching go cold in loss to Mets
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon didn't mince any words after the Rays' blowout loss.
New York's Chris Young settled down after a shaky first inning to get his first win in more than a year and the Mets beat the Rays 11-2 on Tuesday night.
"Possibly played our worst game of the season at home," Maddon said. "Kind of a flat game for us. That was a clunker."
The Rays have dropped 11 of the past 17 in their home ballpark.
Young allowed nine hits over 5 2-3 innings, walked two and struck out four in his second major league outing since returning from shoulder surgery that sidelined him most of last season. The right-hander won for the first time since beating Philadelphia 7-1 on April 5, 2011 -- his first start in a Mets uniform.
"He had some tricky stuff," Rays outfielder Matt Joyce said.
Rookie Jordany Valdespin drove in a career-high four runs, three with a pair of two-out hits. The Mets, swept last weekend by the crosstown rival Yankees, have scored a major league-leading 134 runs with two outs -- nine of them in their first appearance at Tropicana Field in 11 years.
"They have this propensity to score two-out runs, which they did again," Maddon said. "It's just unbelievable. Nobody on, two outs and all of sudden the floodgates open. That's not the way you draw it up, but you've got to give them a lot of credit. The Mets are playing the game well and hard. That's how they beat us. They just outplayed us."
Young yielded a bases-loaded single to Hideki Matsui and a sacrifice fly to Will Rhymes in the first. The right-hander, who launched his comeback by allowing three runs and six hits in five innings of a no-decision against Washington on June 5, worked out of tight spots in the next two innings to keep the Mets close.
Valdespin's two-run single off Alex Cobb (2-3) put New York ahead 3-2 in the fifth. His two-out RBI double was the first big blow in the Mets' six-run seventh.
Daniel Murphy followed with a two-run single that made it 6-2. Ike Davis finished off the Rays with a three-run homer off reliever J.P. Howell.
"It was a tough game, definitely," Howell said.
Cobb, who lost his third straight start after winning the first two following his promotion from Triple-A Durham, allowed six runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings.
"The last three outings I've felt great," Cobb said. "It's just the results aren't showing right now."
The Mets' struggles with runners in scoring position continued. After going 5 for 18 in such situations while being swept by the Yankees, New York was 0 for 4 in the first two innings against Cobb. The first run scored against the Tampa Bay starter raced home on shortstop Elliot Johnson's fielding error.
The Rays weren't much better early, going 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position in the first three innings. Only one run scored when Matsui lined a pitch off the right-field wall with the bases loaded in the first, and Young worked out of a jam in the second by striking out Rhymes and Jose Molina after giving up singles to B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce to begin the inning.
"We had opportunities but didn't take advantage," Maddon said.
Cobb retired eight in a row before the Mets finally broke through against the right-hander with two outs in the fifth. Omar Quintanilla singled and Kirk Nieuwenhuis doubled before Valdespin's two-run single.
Valdespin earned his fourth RBI of the night when he grounded out in the eighth. Lucas Duda followed with a two-out RBI single that made it 11-2.
New York relievers Jon Rauch, Tim Byrdak, Miguel Bautista, Elvin Ramirez and Frank Francisco shut out the Rays over the last 3 1-3 innings.
NOTES: With Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist out of the lineup because of a bruised right hand, Sean Rodriguez moved to second base, and Will Rhymes started at third. Zobrist was injured when he was struck in the hand by a throw while sliding into second base during Sunday's win at Miami. X-rays were negative and he is day to day. ... The Rays continue to take a cautious approach to 3B Evan Longoria's return. He has been on the disabled list since May 1 because of a partially torn left hamstring. He ran before the game and could begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend.