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Mets’ Wild-Card hopes take another hit with loss to Rays

Even after most everything seemed lost, there were still an untold number of permutations, of back doors the Mets could crack open to sneak their way into the playoffs. However slim the possibility grew, it never quite disappeared. But with five games remaining, even the most plausible fantasies depended on the Mets winning every one of them.

They did not. Instead, the Mets dropped an 8-5 game to the Rays on Wednesday at Citi Field to move to the brink of elimination. They can be mathematically eliminated as soon as Thursday.

New York’s latest loss was like so many before it. The Mets received a middling starting-pitching performance, this time from Michael Wacha, who allowed four runs in six innings in his return to the rotation. Wacha kept things tight over the first five of those innings, before cracking for a two-run Randy Arozarena homer in the sixth. The bullpen then stretched the lead via a three-run Rays rally in the eighth.

The Mets received game-tying homers from Andrés Giménez and Dominic Smith in the second and fourth innings, respectively, but could not match Tampa Bay’s late offensive burst.