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Jon Niese heads home to Ohio after big strikeout

Jonathon Niese struck out lefty-hitting Anthony Rizzo to end Chicago's scoring threat in the sixth inning of Game 2 of the NLCS. AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

NEW YORK -- Jonathon Niese's transition from starter to a postseason relief role so far has been an unequivocal success.

After inheriting Kris Bryant at second base from Noah Syndergaard in the sixth inning on Sunday, Niese struck out lefty-hitting Anthony Rizzo to end the threat. Niese has now struck out both batters he has faced this postseason.

"You wanted to stop the bleeding there," Niese said after the Mets' 4-1 win against the Chicago Cubs. "It seemed like they had a little bit of momentum there with Bryant hitting that double. My job was to stop that momentum. Fortunately, I was able to do that."

The southpaw now will head to his native Ohio to mourn the death of his grandmother, who passed away on Friday. He hopes to arrive in Chicago and rejoin the Mets in time for the first pitch of Tuesday's Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field.

"I'm going to go home tomorrow morning. I'm going to fly to Ohio," Niese said late Sunday. "My grandmother's showing is tomorrow, and then her funeral is Tuesday at 1:30. I'm going to drive from the funeral to Chicago. It's probably a four-hour drive. Hopefully whenever I'm going to get there, I'll go to the bullpen and join the team."