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Atlanta at New York

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Atlanta (66-83)000000000080
N.Y. Mets (83-64) «31000010x5130

Niese steps up in 2nd big league start, helps Mets salvage DH split

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Jonathon Niese stood in the center of the clubhouse, accepting congratulations from a parade of grateful teammates.

His first major league win was a crucial one for the New York Mets.

Niese pitched eight poised innings in his second career start, David Wright hit the first of three Mets homers and New York beat the Atlanta Braves 5-0 on Saturday night for a doubleheader split.

"He threw an unbelievable game," Jose Reyes said. "We needed that game there."

Reyes and Carlos Beltran also connected to help the NL East leaders avoid a costly sweep after they let the opener slip away for Johan Santana. New York is 2½ games ahead of second-place Philadelphia -- three up in the loss column -- with 15 to play.

It was at this stage last season when the Mets began their epic collapse. They had a seven-game cushion before going 5-12 down the stretch and letting Philadelphia charge past them for the division crown.

Beginning their final 17-game stretch this year, the Mets squandered a late lead in the first game but rebounded in the nightcap. They have won 21 of 29 overall and desperately want to prevent another September slide.

"Because of what happened last year, we just have to deal with it," manager Jerry Manuel said between games. "We have to answer the questions daily, but that's OK."

Jeff Francoeur hit a tying single in the eighth inning of the first game and Atlanta rallied against Santana and the Mets' bullpen, beating New York 3-2 for its first one-run road win in more than a year.

Omar Infante's sacrifice fly put the Braves in front, capping a three-run eighth.

Mike Gonzalez closed out Atlanta's fourth straight win with a perfect ninth and the Braves won a one-run game away from home for the first time since a 7-6 victory on Aug. 9, 2007, also at Shea Stadium.

Atlanta had lost 22 such games in a row this season and 29 overall -- the longest streak of its kind in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"We enjoyed it. There was a lot of excitement in that dugout, in that locker room, when you win a game like that," Kelly Johnson said. "Let's make it hard on these guys. Maybe they collapse again."

Niese (1-0) did his best to prevent that.

The 21-year-old lefty, born the day the Mets won the 1986 World Series, allowed six hits and struck out seven. He was admittedly nervous for his debut Sept. 2 and got roughed up at Milwaukee.

"I was more relaxed, obviously. I just worried about taking a deep breath between pitches and just executing and it all worked out," Niese said.

Beltran also doubled, singled and scored twice. Wright hit a two-run shot off Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11) in the first and Fernando Tatis polished off the inning with a two-out RBI single. Tatis and Reyes each had three hits.

Niese was tabbed for this start after Friday night's rainout forced the doubleheader. The Mets, missing injured John Maine, pushed back Pedro Martinez until Monday night at Washington, saying they didn't want to start two unproven pitchers in that four-game series.

The club's top pitching prospect, Niese delivered in a big way. With the scattered crowd chanting "Let's Go Niese!" he got Omar Infante to foul out for the final out of the eighth and pumped his first.

"He threw a lot of strikes. Got that real slow, good curveball," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He didn't look like a 21-year-old kid on the mound to me. Great poise."

Niese had his brother, agent and a few friends in attendance. When he returned to his locker, he had several game balls and two lineup cards waiting for him as souvenirs.

"He performed extremely well. I was very impressed with the way he attacked them," Manuel said. "From all the things I've heard about him, he is a tremendous competitor, so I think he was anxious to get back out there and perform."

Niese even got his first hit, an infield single in the fourth.

Luis Ayala worked a two-hit ninth, completing New York's 11th shutout. The Braves have been blanked 14 times.

Notes

  • Niese became the youngest Mets starter to win since Bill Pulsipher on Aug. 26, 1995. Pulsipher was one day younger than Niese.
  • Beltran is batting .429 with four homers, 12 RBI and 15 runs during his 11-game hitting streak.
  • Nursing a stiff back, Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones missed both games. He hopes to return to the lineup Sunday for his final chance to play at Shea Stadium, one of his favorite ballparks.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Niese proves his worth in his second major league start, allowing no runs in eight innings.  (AP)
Niese proves his worth in his second major league start, allowing no runs in eight innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

C. Beltran
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
New York

J. Niese
IP 8.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 2
K 7
 
Atlanta Braves
Gregor Blanco, CF4010001 .255
Martin Prado, 3B4000011 .326
Kelly Johnson, 2B4020011 .283
Omar Infante, LF4000003 .303
Casey Kotchman, 1B4020001 .273
Jeff Francoeur, RF3020101 .234
Brent Lillibridge, SS3000024 .183
   a- Josh Anderson, PH1010000 .286
Clint Sammons, C3000112 .163
Jo-Jo Reyes, P0000000 .111
   b- Ruben Gotay, PH1000010 .221
    Buddy Carlyle, P0000000 .250
   c- Brandon Jones, PH1000011 .265
    Vladimir Nunez, P0000000 .000
   d- Greg Norton, PH1000011 .257
    Jeff Ridgway, P0000000 .000
    Elmer Dessens, P0000000 .000
Totals3308028  
a-singled for Lillibridge in the 9th
b-struck out for Reyes in the 3rd
c-struck out for Carlyle in the 5th
d-struck out for Nunez in the 7th
Batting
2B - Kelly Johnson (37, Niese), Jeff Francoeur (29, Niese)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Lillibridge-Johnson-Kotchman
Atlanta Braves
Jo-Jo Reyes (L,3-11) 2544012 5.50
Buddy Carlyle 2300240 4.07
Vladimir Nunez 2200010 4.81
Jeff Ridgway 1111011 3.72
Elmer Dessens 1200010 22.50
WP - Buddy Carlyle (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Jo-Jo Reyes 37-23, Buddy Carlyle 49-29, Vladimir Nunez 22-17, Jeff Ridgway 20-14, Elmer Dessens 16-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jo-Jo Reyes 2-3, Buddy Carlyle 2-0, Vladimir Nunez 2-2, Jeff Ridgway 1-1
Batters Faced - Jo-Jo Reyes 11, Buddy Carlyle 11, Vladimir Nunez 7, Jeff Ridgway 4, Elmer Dessens 5
New York Mets
Jose Reyes, SS5131001 .300
Ryan Church, RF4110103 .293
David Wright, 3B3112110 .296
Carlos Beltran, CF4231013 .285
Carlos Delgado, 1B4000011 .264
Fernando Tatis, LF4031010 .301
    Endy Chavez, LF0000000 .272
Luis Castillo, 2B4000004 .252
Robinson Cancel, C4000020 .205
Jonathon Niese, P3010020 .200
   a- Daniel Murphy, PH1010000 .365
    Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
Totals36513528  
a-singled for Niese in the 8th
Batting
2B - Carlos Beltran (38, Carlyle)
HR - Jose Reyes (14, Reyes), David Wright (29, Reyes), Carlos Beltran (24, Ridgway)
RBI - Jose Reyes (57), David Wright 2 (111), Carlos Beltran (103), Fernando Tatis (47)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Reyes (28), Fernando Tatis (11)
SB - Carlos Beltran (21, 3rd base off Reyes/Sammons)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Castillo-Reyes-Delgado, Reyes-Castillo-Delgado
PB - Robinson Cancel (1)
New York Mets
Jonathon Niese (W,1-0) 8600270 4.09
Luis Ayala 1200010 5.09
Pitches-Strikes - Jonathon Niese 116-75, Luis Ayala 14-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jonathon Niese 9-7, Luis Ayala 1-0
Batters Faced - Jonathon Niese 31, Luis Ayala 4
Game Information
Attendance - 54705
Game Time - 2:24
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Gary Cederstrom, Second Base - Field Culbreth, Third Base - Damien Beal