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Lowe Homers, Rays Inch Past DeGrom, Mets 2-1 Despite 16 Ks

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames throws to first base after forcing out New York Mets' Jeff McNeil, below, during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in New York. New York Mets' Dominic Smith reached first base on the play. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames throws to first base after forcing out New York Mets' Jeff McNeil, below, during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in New York. New York Mets' Dominic Smith reached first base on the play. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Nate Lowe homered and scored both runs against NL Cy Young Award contender Jacob deGrom, and the Tampa Bay Rays overcame 16 strikeouts to move closer to an AL East title by beating the New York Mets 21 Monday night.

NEW YORK: Nate Lowe homered and scored both runs against NL Cy Young Award contender Jacob deGrom, and the Tampa Bay Rays overcame 16 strikeouts to move closer to an AL East title by beating the New York Mets 2-1 Monday night.

The Rays trimmed their magic number to two for their first division title since 2010, a feat they can wrap up Tuesday. Tampa Bay started the day 3 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees.

DeGrom (4-2) pitched seven innings of two-run ball, striking out 14 to match his career high for the second time this season. He allowed four hits and walked two against the AL’s top team, enhancing his bid for a third straight Cy Young Award.

Lowe walked and scored in the second and launched a leadoff homer in the fourth.

The Rays used an opener for the third time in eight games after relying on their rotation for most of this season. Peter Fairbanks began with 1 2/3 scoreless innings, Josh Fleming (4-0) allowed a run in three innings as the bulk man and Nick Anderson closed for his sixth save. In total, six pitchers combined on a four-hitter.

DeGrom reached 100 mph while striking out the side on 10 pitches in the first inning, a promising sign after he left his previous start after only two innings with a right hamstring spasm.

He got a bit wild in the second, and a couple of defensive miscues didn’t help. Lowe walked and scored on Manuel Margot’s sacrifice fly, although Lowe might have been nabbed after a wide turn at third on Joey Wendle’s double if shortstop Amed Rosario hadn’t dropped the relay feed.

Wendle later stole third when third baseman J.D. Davis dropped catcher Wilson Ramos’ throw. Neither Rosario nor Davis were charged with errors. DeGrom ended the inning by striking out Mike Zunino.

Jeff McNeil got New York on the board in the fifth with a bases-loaded infield single that cut the Rays’ lead to 2-1. Fleming got out of the inning one batter later when Davis lined out to right fielder Brett Phillips.

FOR THREE

DeGrom faces a crowded field pursuing his third straight NL Cy Young Award, with Chicago’s Yu Darvish and Atlanta’s Max Fried likely to be his top competitors. The Mets ace’s ERA rose to 2.14, trailing Fried’s 1.96, but deGrom’s 94 strikeouts lead the group. DeGrom and Darvish are tied for the NL lead with 2.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) each, per Fangraphs.

The Mets went 12-2 in deGrom’s previous 14 starts, but the run support ran out Monday.

Mets starters have struck out at least 10 batters in three straight games for the first time in franchise history. David Peterson punched out 10 on Saturday, and Rick Porcello matched that Sunday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: INFs Ji-Man Choi (left hamstring strain) and Yandy Diaz (right hamstring strain) took batting practice and are ready to face live pitching. … LHP Jose Alvarado threw a 26-pitch bullpen and is expected to face hitters Thursday. Alvarado isn’t eligible to return from the 45-day injured list until next week.

Mets: OF Jake Marisnick was placed on the 10-day injured list with right hamstring tightness and is done for the season. Marisnick hit .333 in 16 games after being acquired from Houston before the season and is set to become a free agent. OF Guillermo Heredia was promoted from the alternate site.

UP NEXT

Rays LHP Blake Snell (4-1, 3.05 ERA) faces Mets RHP Seth Lugo (2-3, 4.34) in the middle leg of the three-game series Tuesday night.

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Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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