Eovaldi flirts with perfection as Rays rout Mets 9-0

NEW YORK — Nathan Eovaldi took a perfect game into the seventh inning, C.J. Cron hit an early three-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays routed the New York Mets 9-0 on Sunday.

Eovaldi retired his first 18 batters before Brandon Nimmo lined a clean single to right field leading off the seventh. Nimmo was quickly erased on a double play, and Eovaldi faced the minimum through seven innings.

The right-hander, who returned this season from his second Tommy John surgery, struck out nine. Andrew Kittredge pitched the final two innings for the Rays, giving up a single in the ninth before finishing the two-hitter.

It was the second time this season Eovaldi (3-3) made it through six innings without allowing a hit. He threw six hitless innings in May against Oakland for a 6-0 Rays win in his first major league start since 2016.

Three times this year Eovaldi has gone six or more innings and given up no more than one hit, tied with Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams for most in the majors.

Cron’s home run gave the Rays a 3-0 lead in the first. He connected on a fastball down the middle from Chris Flexen (0-2) and drove it into the second deck in left field. The homer was Cron’s 17th of the season, setting a career high.