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Niese pitches Mets over Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Jonathon Niese clearly hadn't been himself lately.
In his four starts back since shoulder discomfort sent him to the disabled list, the New York Mets starter went 0-4 with a 5.76 ERA. Going up against the Philadelphia Phillies, a team against which he had compiled a 7-6 record and a 3.03 ERA in 18 career starts, seemed a good way to help get him back on track.
Niese (6-8) certainly looked more like the pitcher who had compiled a 2.98 ERA over the first few months of the 2014 season, throwing seven strong innings as the Mets beat the Phillies 5-3 Monday afternoon.
Niese finished with a line of two earned runs allowed along with five hits in seven innings, striking out six although he did walk three batters.
"I thought it was a big step for Jon," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He made the pitch to Ruf, fell behind. Bases on balls have hurt him and they did again today, but I thought he pitched a good game today. Got us through seven, which we needed because the bullpen was pretty shy today."
The Phillies got a decent effort from starting pitcher David Buchanan (6-6), a rookie making just the 12th start of his career. Buchanan gave up just one run and three hits through the first six innings, but then ran into trouble in the seventh, giving up a walk and an RBI double that tied the game at 2-2 before an out was recorded in that half of the inning.
"He did a nice job," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He showed the ability to make adjustments out there and not get too flustered. That's one of the traits he's showed since he's been here, he seems to really compete through his outings."
A day after the Mets' bullpen blew a four-run lead over the final three innings, Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus wasn't able to get out of trouble.
After a single by shortstop Wilmer Flores, Mets catcher Anthony Recker came through, fouling three straight off De Fratus before connecting on a 3-2 slider and sending it over the fence in left field for a three-run homer.
"Early in the at-bat, I was kind of looking for the slider," Recker said. "I figured he'd try to throw me a couple early, see if he could roll me over. Obviously once it got to 3-2 it was just a battle, just trying to get a pitch and see it and hit it and fortunately I was able to hit it well."
"(After) the walk, the leadoff walk, at that point I felt like he'd done his job," Sandberg said about removing Buchanan when he did. "We had matchups with De Fratus with two righties."
Though it was Jenrry Majia who gave up two runs in the ninth inning to blow the game for the Mets on Sunday, Jeurys Familia nearly did the same on Monday. Familia gave up what was initially ruled a two-out, two-run home run to pinch hitter Chase Utley, but a review determined it was instead a ground-rule double.
Familia then got center fielder Ben Revere to fly to center for the final out of the game.
The Phillies had held a 2-1 lead since the fourth inning, when left fielder Darin Ruf's second home run of the year scored catcher Carlos Ruiz, but that was the only weak point of the afternoon for Niese.
It was Niese's best outing since giving up one run in 7 2/3 innings to Milwaukee back on June 12. Before coming out in the first inning of a game on July 4 with that shoulder discomfort, he had put up six straight quality starts, and this was his first one since returning.
"It's weird this year, how it's going," he said. "I'm winning with my bad stuff and losing with my good stuff."
NOTES: Phillies 2B Chase Utley was given the day off, with Andres Blanco getting the start in his place. It was Utley's first off day since July 28, though he appeared in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter. ... Both the Phillies and Mets announced their Tuesday starters after the game. The Phillies, traveling to Los Angeles to face the Angels and LHP C.J. Wilson (8-8, 4.82 ERA), will be using newly acquired Jerome Williams (2-5, 6.71). The Mets, who return home to host RHP Doug Fister (11-3, 2.49 ERA) Washington, will be using newly called up Rafael Montero (0-2, 5.40 ERA). ... This game marked the 20th-year anniversary of a 2-1 Phillies win over the Mets in 15 innings back on Aug. 11, 1994. That game is notable as it was the last one for both teams before a players' strike the next day wiped out the remainder of the season. ... New York improved its record in Philadelphia this season to 8-2, and the Mets are 13-3 in their last 16 games at Citizens Bank Park.