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Mets' long shot wild-card hopes take another hit with loss to Rays

Mets starting pitcher Michael Wacha stands on the

Mets starting pitcher Michael Wacha stands on the mound after giving up a two-run home run to the Rays' Randy Arozarena during the sixth inning at Citi Field on Wednesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The final home game of 2020 went about as well as the majority of them did for the Mets. That is to say, not well enough at all.

Probably needing to win out to keep any realistic postseason chances alive, the Mets lost to the Rays on Wednesday, 8-5, to finish with a 12-17 record at Citi Field.

Randy Arozarena’s two-run homer in the sixth off Michael Wacha snapped a 2-2 tie. Brandon Lowe’s two-run homer in the eighth off Chasen Shreve gave the Rays a four-run cushion, which later became a six-run cushion after Arozarena went deep again off Steven Matz in the ninth.

Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer in the Mets’ three-run ninth.

The Mets will finish the regular season with four games in Washington against the Nationals beginning on Thursday. With the top wild-card contenders hovering around .500, the Mets at 25-31 will have to win all four and hope for a lot of losing from a bunch of different clubs to win a playoff spot.

"Tonight’s another tough loss," manager Luis Rojas said. "We didn’t throw the ball particularly well overall. But the guys will be ready tomorrow to come in and compete. We still have a shot with the four games left and we’re still competing. We’ve got to do what we do. Just keep fighting like they did in that ninth inning there."

The Mets were three games out of the NL’s final wild-card spot pending the Giants’ late game. The fourth-place Mets also trail the Marlins by three games for second place in the NL East; second-place teams automatically earn a postseason spot.

The Rays, who clinched the AL East and own the best record in the American League at 37-20, celebrated on the Mets’ home field.

"I didn’t look," Rojas said. "I didn’t notice."

The Mets played only 29 games at Citi Field this season because one of their "home" games was played on Aug. 28 at Yankee Stadium. Amed Rosario hit a seventh-inning walkoff homer off Aroldis Chapman in the second game of a doubleheader sweep. It was one of the high points of a Mets season that is likely to end on Sunday.

"Being a playoff team was something that was everybody’s same goal and one that we wanted to reach as a team," Dominic Smith said. "To be where we’re at right now, obviously I’m definitely not too happy."

Wacha threw one of his best starts of the season, and still gave up four runs in six innings to fall to 1-4 with a 6.62 ERA.

"It’s just frustrating," Wacha said. "Must-win games here and just didn’t get it done tonight."

Joey Wendle put the Rays on the board in the second with a sizzling line drive homer to the lower deck in right. The solo shot had an exit velocity of 102.5 miles per hour.

The Mets tied it in the bottom half when rookie Andres Gimenez did Wendle better with his sizzling solo homer to right. Gimenez’s third home run had an exit velocity of 108.7 mph and banged off the chicken restaurant sign on the second deck.

The Rays took a 2-1 lead in the third when Pete Alonso tried and failed to throw out speedy Manuel Margot at home on a one-out grounder to first.

Smith tied the game at 2 in the fourth with his 10th home run, a bomb into the covered upper deck in right.

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