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Extra days of rest pay off for Niese

NEW YORK -- Given two extra days of rest, Jon Niese was much improved on Sunday against the Phillies. The lefty gave up three runs over seven innings and struck out six hitters in Philadelphia’s 3-0 win.

“The rest kind of helped. I felt refreshed and ready to go,” Niese said. “All my stuff was 100 percent and I thought I was throwing the ball where I wanted to for the most part.”

Coming into the start, Niese struggled in his last two games, giving up eight runs (three earned) in 4.2 innings against Atlanta, and giving up five earned runs in six innings against Chicago on Sept. 5. Scheduled to pitch Friday night, Niese was instead bumped back to Sunday giving him extra rest.

Niese worked in and out of trouble several times during the game, but showed poise on the mound. The first three Phillies reached in the first inning, including a RBI single by Chase Utley to make it 1-0, but Niese struck out Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez to end the threat.

Trailing 3-0 in the seventh inning with runners on second and third and zero outs, he got a groundout and following an intentional walk, a double-play ball off the bat of Placido Polanco to get out of the inning. That was his final inning of work.

“It meant a lot,” Niese said of being able to stay in the game in the seventh. “I thought I still had good stuff that inning and it shows that (Mets manager Jerry Manuel) has a lot of confidence in me and I like that.”

Niese only made one mistake the entire game, a 90-mph fastball that Raul Ibanez crushed over the center field wall to give the Phillies their 3-0 lead in the seventh. He dropped to 9-8 on the year with a 3.85 ERA.

“I thought he pumped the strike zone great,” catcher Josh Thole said. “We attacked with his fastball, that’s what I thought made him so good today, it got off to a little bit of a slow start, a couple base runners but then to get out of it and a few strikeouts there was huge and he built off of that.”