WHAT IT MEANS: To borrow Johan Santana’s signature expression: Believe it. The New York Mets now have a share of first place, albeit a three-way tie with the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins.
On a night John Franco was inducted into the team’s hall of fame and political commentator Bill Maher confirmed he is now a partial team owner, and during a weekend in which Santana tossed the organization’s first no-hitter, Jon Niese continued the Amazin’ pitching by contributing six scoreless innings.
New York Mets
Fueled by a two-run homer and career-high three RBIs by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1, Sunday night at Citi Field.
The Mets (31-23) occupy first place at this late a date for the first time since Sept. 19, 2008 -- before their second straight collapse became realized. They moved eight games over .500 for the first time since July 11, 2010.
The scoreless streak ended at 25 innings -- all against St. Louis -- when reliever Elvin Ramirez, in his major league debut, allowed a two-out RBI single to Adron Chambers in the eighth.
It nearly had ended in the sixth when Chambers delivered a two-out single to center field against Niese, but Andres Torres’ throw to Josh Thole was in time to cut down David Freese at the plate. Torres contributed a two-run triple the following half-inning as well as the Mets built a 6-0 lead.
St. Louis entered the series leading the NL in virtually every offensive category, but has been stymied by the Mets' pitching.
The last time the Mets recorded three consecutive shutouts remains in May 2010, when they blanked the Philadelphia Phillies three straight games behind starts from R.A. Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi and Mike Pelfrey.
This time, Santana and Dickey had complete games and Niese lasted six innings and was pulled with his pitch count at 96.
The last time three straight Mets had complete-game shutouts remains April 1988, with performances from Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda and Dwight Gooden.
Niese’s final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, career-high 10 strikeouts. He also matched a career high with two hits, the latter with two outs in the fourth to prolong the inning for Nieuwenhuis’ two-run homer and a 3-0 lead.
YO ADRIAN: Niese stranded runners on third base in the third and fourth innings -- the first time striking out Carlos Beltran, the second instance striking out opposing starter Jake Westbrook.
The latter time was set up by another scrutinized call from Adrian Johnson, the ump who aided Santana’s no-hitter by ruling Beltran’s ball down the third-base line Friday was foul. This time, Johnson ruled David Wright’s throw on Tyler Greene’s grounder had pulled Ike Davis off first base. Replays suggested otherwise.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Mets will attempt their first-ever four-game sweep of the Cardinals in New York, and first overall against St. Louis since 1986, when Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.69 ERA) opposes right-hander Kyle Lohse (5-1, 3.66) on Monday at 1:10 p.m. ET.