06/05/10 8:02 PM EST
Solid Niese backed by Wright's big day
Lefty supported in return as third baseman drives in three
By Kyle Maistri / MLB.com
The last time the starter took the mound, Niese strained his right hamstring and lasted only two innings on May 16 -- also against the Marlins (28-29).
Healthy and looking for some revenge against Florida, which has handed him his only two loses this season, Niese (2-2) allowed just one run over seven innings while striking out six as the Mets (29-27) beat the Marlins, 6-1, on Saturday.
"As long as there wasn't any pain, I knew there wasn't going to be an issue," Niese said.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel said before his return that Niese wouldn't be on a pitch count Saturday and would last as long as his performance dictated. True to his word, the lefty was allowed to toss 90 pitches as he pounded the strike zone -- one hit batsman and one walk were his only lapses in command.
Most impressive to Manuel was the 23-year-old's ability to locate his curveball for strikes early in the count, especially coming off the DL, when many pitchers would feel more comfortable relying predominantly on fastballs.
"When you have a guy that missed time, you don't really expect that a guy is going to command his secondary pitches and go to them as often as he did," Manuel said.
Niese cruised through the first six innings before running into trouble in the seventh. The Marlins scored their only run of the game on a single by Ronny Paulino, who plated Dan Uggla and put runners on first and second with one out. Niese responded by striking out Cameron Maybin with a high fastball -- set up by a few early curveballs -- before getting pinch-hitter Wes Helms on a comebacker to the mound.
"I wanted to go back out there for the eighth, but it is what it is," said Niese, who threw 22 pitches in his final inning of work.
The offense gave Niese plenty of support early, scoring all six runs against starter Nate Robertson (4-5), who was chased in the fifth inning.
Cleanup hitter Ike Davis broke out of a 0-for-9 slump by recording the first four-hit game of his young career, finishing 4-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and three runs scored.
"It's tough, I had some good days and I didn't get a hit," Davis said. "You start to press a little bit."
Though Robertson presented a lefty-lefty matchup for the rookie, Davis continued to show the ability to hit left-handed pitching, improving his batting average to .325 in 40 at-bats against southpaws.
David Wright provided the rest of the pop, coming up to bat with Davis on base in front of him each time. The Mets' No. 5 hitter launched a two-run home run in the third inning and singled home Davis in the fifth on his way to a 2-for-3 performance, three RBIs and two runs scored.
The home run was the 10th of the year for Wright, matching his total from the entire previous season.
"It's just a number -- home runs don't really mean that much to me," Wright said.
Jeff Francoeur continued his hot streak, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and has now hit safely in 18 of his past 38 at-bats since his average bottomed out to .211 on May 23.
The victory was the Mets' seventh in a row at home and ran their record to 21-9 in Citi Field. As good as they have been at home this season, they have struggled on the road (8-18), but the players insist that a change in venue does nothing to change their approach to the game.
"I wish that I knew something, so we could bottle it up and take it with us," Wright said.
Kyle Maistri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.