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Niese whiffs 10, Mets rout Cardinals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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NEW YORK -- Jonathon Niese's elevated heart rate is the only problem a Mets pitcher has run into lately.

Niese struck out a career-high 10 in six scoreless innings before he was pulled as a precaution and New York shut down the slumping St. Louis Cardinals for the third straight game, getting a homer and three RBI from rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis in a 6-1 victory Sunday night.

Niese matched a career high with two hits and said his heart "started racing" after he singled and scored on Nieuwenhuis' homer in the fourth. He had the same issue during an outing in Texas last season and wore a heart monitor afterward on the bench in Detroit. But tests checked out fine and the left-hander hasn't had any such problems since.

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"It's kind of like a huge adrenaline rush," Niese explained. "I kept feeling the heart racing at the end. I said to myself, `I went out and pitched six scoreless innings, that is enough, don't do anything stupid."

Niese had an EKG during his spring training physical and everything came back fine. He will have more tests Monday, manager Terry Collins said, but Niese insisted he's not worried.

"Not really, because I felt it before and it's not an issue," he said. "It started in the fourth inning, but then it went away."

Andres Torres added a two-run triple and threw out a runner at the plate from center field. He finished a homer shy of the cycle. Nieuwenhuis, batting leadoff, also had three hits.

Niese (4-2) became the latest New York pitcher to dominate the Cardinals, following Johan Santana's no-hitter in the series opener Friday night -- the first in Mets history -- and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey's seven-hit shutout Saturday.

"I chart every one of Johan's games. I watched him attack hitters, establish his fastball in -- that is what I tried to do today," Niese said. "I think I had a good release point today with my curveball."

The only thing that prevented the Cardinals from being blanked in three consecutive games for the first time since October 1976 was a two-out RBI single by Adron Chambers in the eighth off Elvin Ramirez, who was making his major league debut.

That snapped New York's scoreless streak at 25 innings and ended St. Louis' drought at 26 innings dating to Wednesday's 10-7 loss at Atlanta. The Cardinals have lost five straight and eight of 10 to fall back to .500 at 27-27.

"We ran into some pretty good pitching. We ran into some at-bats that I think some guys would like to have back," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's just one of those runs. The only way to get out of it is to work."

Thanks to some stellar pitching, the surging Mets (31-23) are headed in the opposite direction. They have won seven of nine and 10 of 14 to move eight games over .500 for the first time since July 2010. The latest victory pulled them within within percentage points of first-place Washington in the NL East.

"They should be very proud of where they are," Collins said. "This is the best atmosphere I have been around in a long time."

Mets starters are 7-0 with a 1.38 ERA dating to May 25.

Carlos Beltran's first trip to Citi Field since the Mets traded him to San Francisco last summer hasn't included much offense. The Cardinals were the top-hitting team in the National League when they arrived, but they sure haven't showed it.

"It's a little bit of everything. I think they're pitching great. We're not hitting the ball, we're not getting on base," Beltran said. "Right now it seems like things are not going our way even though our mentality and our focus is there."

Not wanting to take any chances, Collins pulled Niese after 96 pitches -- 70 strikes. Four relievers completed the eight-hitter as St. Louis stranded 12 runners.

Lucas Duda hit an RBI single off Jake Westbrook (4-5) in the first and Nieuwenhuis drove an 0-2 pitch to right-center for a two-run homer in the fourth. Niese was aboard after a two-out single.

It appeared the Cardinals were finally poised to score in the sixth, but Torres threw out World Series MVP David Freese at the plate on Chambers' two-out single.

"That does take a little wind out of your sails," Matheny said.

Nieuwenhuis added an RBI single in the sixth and Torres greeted Maikel Cleto with a two-run triple to make it 6-0. After that, the only drama that remained was whether the Cardinals could actually push across a run.

Notes

  • Mets RHP Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.69 ERA) was moved up a day to start Monday's series finale on his regular four days of rest. Kyle Lohse (5-1, 3.36 ERA) goes for the Cardinals as they try to avoid a four-game sweep.
  • Collins said RHP Chris Young will be called up to start Tuesday night at Washington, with RHP Miguel Batista coming off the disabled list to back him up. Young missed most of last season because of shoulder surgery but re-signed with the Mets and has been working his way back in the minors.
  • Former closer and team captain John Franco was inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame during a 35-minute ceremony on the field before the game.
 
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Jonathon Niese tames the Cardinals through six scoreless innings. He strikes out 10 en route to his fourth win of the season. (Getty Images)
Jonathon Niese tames the Cardinals through six scoreless innings. He strikes out 10 en route to his fourth win of the season. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
New York

J. Niese
IP 6.0
H 6
ER 0
BB 1
K 10
New York

K. Nieuwenhuis
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 
St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Rafael Furcal, SS5000011 .319
Allen Craig, 1B4010010 .339
Matt Holliday, LF4010112 .271
Carlos Beltran, RF5010026 .284
David Freese, 3B4110021 .257
Yadier Molina, C3020100 .335
Tyler Greene, 2B3000023 .212
    Maikel Cleto, P0000000 .000
    Marc Rzepczynski, P0000000 .000
   a- Matt Adams, PH1000011 .283
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
Adron Chambers, CF4021025 .286
Jake Westbrook, P2000022 .143
    Sam Freeman, P0000000 .000
    Daniel Descalso, 2B1000101 .242
Totals36181314  
a-struck out for Rzepczynski in the 8th
Batting
2B - Allen Craig (6, Niese)
RBI - Adron Chambers (1)
2-OUT RBI - Adron Chambers (1)
SB - Yadier Molina (5, 2nd base off Niese/Thole)
Team LOB - 12
Fielding
DP - Furcal-Descalso-Craig
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jake Westbrook (L,4-5) 5955221 4.23
Sam Freeman 0.1111000 18.00
Maikel Cleto 0.2100010 0.00
Marc Rzepczynski 1000010 4.43
Jason Motte 1000100 3.27
Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 106-69, Sam Freeman 9-7, Maikel Cleto 12-7, Marc Rzepczynski 11-7, Jason Motte 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 7-6, Maikel Cleto 1-0, Marc Rzepczynski 2-0, Jason Motte 2-0
Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 26, Sam Freeman 2, Maikel Cleto 3, Marc Rzepczynski 3, Jason Motte 3
New York Mets
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, LF5233000 .301
Andres Torres, CF4132012 .232
David Wright, 3B3000104 .363
Lucas Duda, RF4011011 .258
Daniel Murphy, 2B4010000 .307
Ike Davis, 1B4000023 .166
Omar Quintanilla, SS3100103 .313
Josh Thole, C3110100 .283
Jonathon Niese, P2120000 .200
   a- Jordany Valdespin, PH1000002 .091
    Bobby Parnell, P0000000 .000
    Elvin Ramirez, P0000000 .000
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
   b- Scott Hairston, PH1000001 .271
    Frank Francisco, P0000000 .000
Totals34611634  
a-fouled out for Niese in the 6th
b-grounded into a double play for Byrdak in the 8th
Batting
2B - Andres Torres (4, Westbrook)
3B - Andres Torres (2, Cleto)
HR - Kirk Nieuwenhuis (3, Westbrook)
RBI - Kirk Nieuwenhuis 3 (19), Andres Torres 2 (14), Lucas Duda (31)
2-OUT RBI - Kirk Nieuwenhuis 2 (10)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Andres Torres 1
E - Ike Davis (5, Missed catch of throw), David Wright (5, Misplayed grounder)
New York Mets
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jonathon Niese (W,4-2) 66001100 4.11
Bobby Parnell 1000210 3.13
Elvin Ramirez 0.2211010 13.50
Tim Byrdak 0.1000000 3.07
Frank Francisco 1000020 5.82
HBP - Craig (by Jonathon Niese)
Pitches-Strikes - Jonathon Niese 96-70, Bobby Parnell 27-13, Elvin Ramirez 13-7, Tim Byrdak 2-1, Frank Francisco 18-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jonathon Niese 6-2, Bobby Parnell 1-1, Elvin Ramirez 1-0, Frank Francisco 2-0
Batters Faced - Jonathon Niese 26, Bobby Parnell 5, Elvin Ramirez 4, Tim Byrdak 1, Frank Francisco 4
Game Information
Attendance - 23559
Game Time - 3:01
Temperature - 69
Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Adrian Johnson, Second Base - Gary Cederstrom, Third Base - Lance Barksdale