Braves 3, Mets 2: Niese posts 0s

Brad Barr/US Presswire

Jon Niese, donning a green St. Patrick's Day jersey, tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings against an Atlanta Braves split squad.

Jon Niese allowed the leadoff runner to reach base in each of his six innings and nonetheless held the Braves scoreless, but Atlanta rallied with three eighth-inning runs to beat the Mets, 3-2, Saturday at Digital Domain Park.

Left-handed relief candidate Chuck James allowed consecutive one-out singles to Mark Prado and Jason Heyward in the eighth, then retired Freddie Freeman on a foul popout. Ramon Ramirez entered and allowed an RBI single to Matt Diaz and two-run double to David Ross as the Braves rallied.

Daniel Murphy's two-run single in the sixth accounted for the Mets' lone runs. Murphy had two of the Mets' six hits.

Niese shaved his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.61 in a no-decision by limiting the Braves to six hits while striking out three and walking none in 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Niese has now walked only one batter in 10 1/3 innings.

"It's pretty amazing," Terry Collins said. "Six innings. All six leadoff hitters got on. And he pitched a six-inning shutout. You'll find that very seldom. But it was an outstanding job. He mixed up all of his pitches."

Said Niese: "I want to go out there and pound the zone, throw strikes with all of my pitches. I got to use some changeups in situations that I wanted to. Some worked. Some didn't. But all around it felt good."

• Collins said Ruben Tejada (groin) won't return to Grapefruit League action until Tuesday, after Sunday's long bus trip to Kissimmee to face the Astros, then a team off-day Monday.

• The Mets are 0-7-1 in their past eight Grapefruit League games.