Left-hander Jon Niese improved to 5-0 since returning from the disabled list, produced his first career extra-base hit and RBI, and recorded a career-high eight strikeouts as the Mets beat the Nationals, 5-3, on Friday night. Niese fell behind batters later in his outing and required 117 pitches to complete seven innings, but he nonetheless took a scoreless effort into his final frame, when Josh Willingham produced a leadoff homer for the only run allowed by the left-hander.
New York Mets
Jerry Manuel suggested Niese’s cut fastball was particularly effective, but the southpaw said: “I think I have a good variety that keeps them off-balance.”
Niese’s double capped the Mets’ four-run fourth and scored Alex Cora. It came off Luis Atilano on a shot that Willingham had to retrieve down the left-field line.
“I guess I was rounding it and saw him, he was still going after it, so I thought I’d take off,” Niese said.
Niese slid into second base. Asked the last time that happened, he said in spring training. He believed it came on a Grapefruit League double against Washington’s Livan Hernandez.