Final

Mets 2

(14-15, 5-7 away)

Rays 4

(20-8, 11-3 home)

    6:10 PM ET, April 2, 2010

    Progress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, Florida 

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    NYM 000000002 2 5 2
    TB 01000012 - 4 7 0

    Garza tosses five scoreless as Rays drop Mets for spring's best record

    Associated Press

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Another strong performance by Matt Garza helped the Tampa Bay Rays clinch the best spring training record in the major leagues.

    The right-hander pitched five scoreless innings in his final tuneup for the regular season, allowing one hit, walking two and striking out six Friday night in a 4-2 victory over the New York Mets at Tropicana Field.

    Garza lowered his spring ERA to 2.28 and will start Tampa Bay's second game of the season, Wednesday at home against Baltimore.

    "What are you going to say? I can't wait to get this thing started," he said after his 70-pitch outing. "I'm ready to get it going."

    Three other pitchers limited the Mets to one hit before Mike Jacobs broke up a shutout bid with a two-run homer off Lance Cormier in the ninth. The game ended with Fernando Tatis hitting a fly ball to the left-field wall with the tying runs on base.

    Pat Burrell drove in Tampa Bay's first run with a second-inning double off Mets starter Mike Pelfrey.

    Kelly Shoppach had a run-scoring single in the seventh off Fernando Nieve, and the Rays tacked on a pair of unearned runs to make 4-0 in the eighth.

    The Rays improved to 20-8-2 this spring and will close out their exhibition schedule at Triple-A Durham on Saturday. They also had the top spring training record in the majors two years ago, when they went on appear in the World Series.

    Pelfrey allowed one unearned run and three hits in six innings. The right-hander struck out four and walked none.

    Before the game, the Rays announced that two-time All-Star Hank Blalock will not be on the opening day roster and will try to sign with another team.

    If the 29-year-old infielder doesn't land a deal, he'll report to Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate in Durham.

    Blalock, who went 0-for-2 and scored a run against the Mets, agreed to a minor league contract last month. The Rays feel he showed enough in camp that he eventually can help the team if he remains in the organization rather than opting out of his contract and signing elsewhere.

    "I really tried to impress upon him how valuable we feel he is to us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

    "You're talking about an All-Star, and a really good major league player hitting a bunch of homers last year. ... I really think he's going to have a big year, and we want it to be with us. We feel very fortunate that he will go back if this doesn't work out for him otherwise."

    Blalock hit .234 with 25 homers and 66 RBIs in 123 games for the Texas Rangers in 2009. The .269 career hitter missed missed most of the previous two seasons with injuries that limited his production.

    Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team should know by Sunday whether Blalock, who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Rangers and was an All-Star in 2003 and 2004, will report to Durham.

    Earlier this week, Blalock said he couldn't see himself playing in the minors. He's since changed his stance.

    "If no other teams pick me up before Durham's season starts, yes, I will play there. I'm still 29 years old. I feel like I could be a very productive major league player for a long time, and just knowing and feeling that, I'm going to continue to play," Blalock said.

    "I think the best thing for me to do in a situation like this is just to try and stay in the present as much as I can. I want to go to Durham and get some at bats there and get myself season-ready for whatever opportunity does come up."

    Game notes


    The Mets made their first appearance at Tropicana Field since 2001. ... Attendance was announced as 13,133. ... Maddon said young infield prospects Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez had earned roster spots as reserves. RHP Mike Eckstrom earned the final bullpen job over Joaquin Benoit, who'll begin the season at Durham.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Game Information

    StadiumProgress Energy Park, St. Petersburg, FL
    Attendance13,133 (38.5% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time2:39
    Weatherindoors
    UmpiresHome Plate - Damien Beal, First Base - Mark Lollo, Second Base - Tyler Funnelman, Third Base - Jerry Crawford