ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — The New York Mets scored runs off Jake McGee in the eighth inning and Brad Boxberger in the ninth Friday night, handing the Tampa Bay Rays their first loss this season in a game they led after eight.
Michael Conforto hit a tying double and Wilmer Flores had a go-ahead single in the ninth off Boxberger as the surging Mets rallied for a 4-3 victory, their seventh straight.
"Those pitches were well located," Boxberger said. "They were just able to get the barrel on the ball. Tonight just wasn't our night."
The decisive rally started with a throwing error by Boxberger (4-8), who had walked in the winning run in an extra-inning loss at Chicago on Wednesday.
McGee gave up a home run to Daniel Murphy in the eighth.
"They sometimes appear invincible and they're not," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of his late-inning relievers. "They're both really good pitchers and every once in a while you're going to see some fluke-ish things like that happen."
After Evan Longoria's home run in the eighth — the fifth solo homer of the game — the Rays took a 3-2 lead into the ninth. It was the 51st game this season they led after eight innings, and the first one they lost.
"We've been battling back almost every game the past few weeks. Sometimes we're going to win, sometimes we're going to lose like tonight," McGee said.
Juan Uribe and Murphy homered late for the NL East leaders, who improved to 4-0 on a six-game road trip and moved 2 1/2 games ahead of second-place Washington.
"Tonight was pure character," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I can't say enough. They know these games are big."
Lucas Duda reached first base to start the ninth on Boxberger's throwing error. Duda went to second on a wild pitch and came home on Conforto's liner to left-center. The rookie scored to make it 4-3 when Flores blooped a two-out single to right.
Jeurys Familia got three outs for his 30th save.
The Mets said it was the first time in franchise history they overcame three different deficits in each of the last three innings to win, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
Longoria, James Loney and Grady Sizemore homered for the Rays.
Longoria's 11th home run of the season came off Tyler Clippard (1-0). The Rays went ahead 2-1 on Loney's solo drive off Jacob deGrom in the seventh. It was Loney's fourth this year and 99th in his major league career.
Last season's NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom entered 7-2 with a 1.47 ERA over his previous 13 starts. He allowed two runs, six hits and had seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings. The Florida native received a nice ovation as he walked from the dugout to the bullpen for his pregame warmup.
Sizemore put the Rays up 1-0 on a fourth-inning leadoff homer. He took a homer away from Flores with a nifty catch in the sixth after jumping into and reaching over a short wall in the left-field corner.
Uribe tied it at 1 in the seventh on a solo shot off Jake Odorizzi, who gave up four hits over 6 2-3 innings.
Rays LHP Matt Moore gave up one run, two hits, one walk and had seven strikeouts over six innings against Louisville in his first start since being demoted last weekend to Triple-A Durham. Moore went 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA in six starts this season after returning from Tommy John surgery.
Mets: 3B David Wright (spinal stenosis) could start a rehab assignment Monday. ... OF Michael Cuddyer (left knee) might return this weekend. He went 0 for 3 with an intentional walk in a rehab game for Class A St. Lucie and played nine innings in right field.
Rays: SS Asdrubal Cabrera started and had two hits after he was struck on the ear by a thrown ball Wednesday. ... LHP Drew Smyly (labrum) is scheduled for his fourth rehab start Tuesday.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard (6-5) is coming off consecutive starts of at least eight innings with nine or more strikeouts and no walks.
Rays: RHP Nathan Karns (6-5) has 10 no-decisions in 21 starts this season.