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Mets sweep Thursday split-squad games

JUPITER, Fla. -- The New York Mets swept a pair of split-squad games Thursday, beating old friend Collin McHugh and the Houston Astros 3-1 in Port St. Lucie and topping the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 in Jupiter.

Michael Cuddyer and Curtis Granderson had solo homers against McHugh and Dillon Gee tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the home win. Rafael Montero allowed one run in 3 2/3 innings later in that game.

Cuddyer homered on a 1-1 curveball from McHugh in the first.

“He’s kind of a front-foot hitter anyway, so he reached out and got it,” McHugh said. “It was a good swing.”

Granderson went opposite field with a back-door cutter in the fourth.

McHugh was traded by the Mets to the Colorado Rockies on June 18, 2013 for Eric Young Jr. He was a waiver-claim that winter by the Houston Astros. McHugh went 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA in 25 starts for Houston last season and finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting.

“It’s cool. It’s a little bit weird,” McHugh said about returning to Port St. Lucie and facing the Mets. “I spent six spring trainings out here. I have fond memories. A lot of those guys playing out there, I came up with.”

McHugh and Juan Lagares followed parallel tracks ascending through the Mets’ minor league system.

“Me and the King were roommates in the fall league and I played with him all the way coming up,” McHugh said, referring to Lagares by his nickname.

Meanwhile in Jupiter, Jonathon Niese allowed one run on three hits and struck out six in four innings. Wilmer Flores contributed a solo homer in the third against left-hander Jaime Garcia. Flores and Bronx native T.J. Rivera each drove in two runs.

Niese threw 67 pitches (46 strikes) and said he hit a wall toward the end of his outing.

“It feels good to pitch without any pain,” Niese said. “That’s a plus. Now I’m just getting that arm strength up and getting stamina up to being able to throw 100 pitches.”

Daniel Murphy left the game in the first inning with a tight right hamstring after scoring on John Mayberry Jr.’s sacrifice fly.

What’s next: The Mets host the Cardinals at 1:10 p.m. Friday (SNY). Bartolo Colon opposes right-hander Michael Wacha.