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Atlanta at New York

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Atlanta (0-3)000000410530
N.Y. Mets (3-0) «10012300x7111

Mets complete series sweep of Braves

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Jonathon Niese had retired 15 straight batters as Sunday's game reached the seventh inning, and anticipation at Citi Field was building. Could this be the first no-hitter in the New York Mets' 51-season history?

Then Dan Uggla worked out a 10-pitch walk, and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman singled cleanly to right on the next pitch. The Mets' wait reached 7,191 games and counting.

No matter, Niese was smiling when it was over. New York completed a season-opening sweep with a 7-5 victory over the Braves. For the first time in 27 years, and only the third time ever, the Mets are 3-0 while the Yankees are 0-3.

"We're going to surprise some people this year," Niese said.

New York is 3-0 for the first time since opening with four wins in 2007. The Mets have a .320 batting average and a 1.67 ERA.

"We're excited -- 3-0, man. You can't draw it up any better than that," Daniel Murphy said.

Atlanta, hoping to rebound from September's 9-18 collapse, is 0-3 for the second time since losing its first 10 games in 1988. The Braves are hitting .151 with seven runs and 14 hits.

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"It's never good to come into the season and get swept," Brian McCann said. "Nobody in here is thinking about last year."

Same with the Mets, coming off their third straight losing season and overshadowed in New York by the glamorous Yankees.

Pitching for the first time since the Mets gave him a $25.5 million, five-year deal, Niese (1-0) allowed just two balls out of the infield through six innings. Freeman singled on his 99th pitch, a fastball that was up.

Mets manager Terry Collins doubted Niese would have pitched the ninth, even if the no-hitter was within reach. Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen had decided on a 115-pitch limit, and the manager recalled how he took out Sid Fernandez from a Class-A game for Vero Beach in 1982 when the pitcher had a no-hitter and 21 strikeouts through seven innings but had thrown 130 pitches.

"You don't sacrifice his health for an inning," Collins said.

Niese, overpowering Atlanta with a 93 mph fastball, had been thinking about a no-hitter since "I guess the first inning." He was pretty sure the pitch count wouldn't have prevented him from going for it.

"I'd have ran back out. It would have been hard to take me out," he said in front of his locker, where an unknown prankster taped up a paper that read "Niese-ter bunny" with a photo-shopped picture of the pitcher in a white rabbit suit, holding a large carrot.

He allowed four runs -- two earned -- and two hits in six-plus innings with seven strikeouts and two walks. It also was his first outing since a $10,000 offseason nose job -- paid for by former teammate Carlos Beltran -- to correct a deviated septum. Niese's 2011 season was cut short Aug. 23 when he strained an intercostal muscle.

Niese lasted just two more batters after Freeman. Right fielder Lucas Duda, looking into a sunny, cloudless sky, dropped Matt Diaz's fly ball for a run-scoring error that made it 7-1, and Jason Heyward chased Niese with a two-run double. Pinch-hitter Jack Wilson added a sacrifice fly off Manny Acosta.

New York's Ruben Tejada had a career-best four hits, and Frank Francisco became the first Mets reliever with saves in his first three games.

"This means everything," Collins said. "We've done a lot of talking in spring training about getting ready to compete, getting ready to prepare to compete. I told those guys in our first meeting: `You're professional baseball players, and there are expectations in this town and in this clubhouse."'

Mike Minor (0-1), who impressed the Braves by throwing 14 consecutive scoreless innings in his first four spring training starts, gave up six runs, six hits and four walks in five-plus innings.

Before a crowd of 27,855 on Easter Sunday, more than 14,000 short of capacity, sacrifice flies by David Wright in the first and Duda in the fourth built a lead. Murphy hit a two-run double in the fifth, and the Mets made it 7-0 in the sixth on Scott Hairston's RBI double against Cristhian Martinez and Tejada's two-run double.

McCann, who had been 0 for 10 in the series, homered in the eighth over the newly pulled-in fence in right, a ball that likely would have been a flyout in previous seasons at Citi Field.

"We're fine," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Four or five of those hits together, and we'll be fine."

Notes

  • San Diego (6,846) is the only other big league team without a no-hitter.
  • Niese pitched a one-hitter against San Diego on June 10, 2010, allowing Chris Denorfia's leadoff double in the third.
  • The Mets also opened 3-0 while the Yankees went 0-3 in 1973, according to STATS.
  • Wright has 728 RBI, five short of Darryl Strawberry's club record.
  • The highlight of the Mets' three-game series against Washington figures to be Wednesday's finale, with Johan Santana pitching against Stephen Strasburg. New York is selling $2.50 tickets for that game, to be played on the 50th anniversary of the Mets' debut.
 
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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Ruben Tejada celebrates a double in the first inning for the Mets. One of his career-best four hits on the day. (Getty Images)
Ruben Tejada celebrates a double in the first inning for the Mets. One of his career-best four hits on the day. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
New York

R. Tejada
AB 5
R 2
H 4
HR 0
RBI 2
Atlanta

J. Heyward
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 

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Atlanta Braves
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Michael Bourn, CF4000030 .182
Martin Prado, 3B3000110 .182
Brian McCann, C4111021 .091
Dan Uggla, 2B2100210 .111
Freddie Freeman, 1B4110002 .250
Matt Diaz, LF2100100 .167
   a- Juan Francisco, PH1000000 .000
Jason Heyward, RF4112001 .200
Jack Wilson, SS3001010 .000
Mike Minor, P2000011 .000
    Cristhian Martinez, P0000000 .000
   b- Jose Constanza, PH1000010 .000
    Kris Medlen, P0000000 .000
    Eric O'Flaherty, P0000000 .000
Totals30534410  
a-flied out for Diaz in the 9th
b-struck out for Cr. Martinez in the 7th
Batting
2B - Jason Heyward (1, Niese)
HR - Brian McCann (1, Acosta)
SF - Jack Wilson (1)
RBI - Brian McCann (1), Jason Heyward 2 (2), Jack Wilson (1)
SB - Jason Heyward (1, 3rd base off Acosta/Nickeas)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Matt Diaz 1
DP - Diaz-Prado-J. Wilson, Prado-McCann-J. Wilson
Atlanta Braves
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Mike Minor (L,0-1) 5666460 10.80
Cristhian Martinez 1211020 4.50
Kris Medlen 1200100 0.00
Eric O'Flaherty 1100010 0.00
IBB - Wright by Mike Minor
Pitches-Strikes - Mike Minor 104-62, Cristhian Martinez 21-14, Kris Medlen 22-14, Eric O'Flaherty 13-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Minor 2-6, Cristhian Martinez 1-0, Kris Medlen 2-0, Eric O'Flaherty 2-0
Batters Faced - Mike Minor 24, Cristhian Martinez 5, Kris Medlen 5, Eric O'Flaherty 4
New York Mets
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ruben Tejada, SS5242000 .364
Daniel Murphy, 2B5122003 .385
    Frank Francisco, P0000000 .000
David Wright, 3B1011200 .667
Ike Davis, 1B3000113 .000
Jason Bay, LF2111110 .222
Lucas Duda, RF3110111 .273
Scott Hairston, CF4111011 .400
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
    Ronny Cedeno, 2B0000000 .000
Mike Nickeas, C4000022 .000
Jonathon Niese, P3110022 .333
    Manny Acosta, P0000000 .000
    Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF1000010 .400
Totals31711759  
Batting
2B - Ruben Tejada 2 (2, Minor, Cr. Martinez), Daniel Murphy 2 (3, Minor, Minor), Scott Hairston (1, Cr. Martinez)
SF - David Wright (1), Jason Bay (1)
RBI - Ruben Tejada 2 (2), Daniel Murphy 2 (2), David Wright (3), Jason Bay (1), Scott Hairston (1)
2-OUT RBI - Ruben Tejada 2 (2), Daniel Murphy 2 (2)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
PB - Mike Nickeas (1)
E - Lucas Duda (1, Dropped fly)
New York Mets
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jonathon Niese (W,1-0) 6243470 4.50
Manny Acosta 1.2111021 5.40
Tim Byrdak (H,2) 0.1000000 0.00
Frank Francisco (S,3) 1000010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Jonathon Niese 102-66, Manny Acosta 26-18, Tim Byrdak 1-1, Frank Francisco 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jonathon Niese 9-3
Batters Faced - Jonathon Niese 25, Manny Acosta 6, Tim Byrdak 1, Frank Francisco 3
Game Information
Attendance - 27855
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Phil Cuzzi, First Base - Victor Carapazza, Second Base - Gerry Davis, Third Base - Eric Cooper