Niese throws one-hitter as Mets, Padres split

NEW YORK -- On a day filled with impressive pitching performances, Jonathon Niese delivered the best of the bunch.

Niese tossed a one-hitter for his first career complete game and the New York Mets overcame a triple play to beat the San Diego Padres 3-0 on Thursday night for a doubleheader split.

Niese allowed only Chris Denorfia's leadoff double in the third inning, his second stellar start since coming off the disabled list Saturday. He faced 28 batters, one more than the minimum, in New York's first complete game this season.

"He had no-hit stuff," catcher Rod Barajas said. "When a guy has that kind of control and command, that's a night when something special happens."

Mat Latos outpitched Johan Santana in the opener, and San Diego stopped New York's nine-game home winning streak with a 4-2 victory.

Adrian Gonzalez had three hits for the Padres, including a go-ahead single. David Eckstein and Chase Headley added RBI doubles.

"We play a lot of these kind of games," Gonzalez said. "We had four good pitchers on the mound today, so it's going to equal a little amount of runs."

Latos and three relievers combined to retire the final 22 Mets after Henry Blanco's two-run homer in the second inning, one of New York's season-low two hits. Jose Reyes opened the game with an infield single.

Niese (3-2) topped that, however, striking out six and walking none in his fifth career win. He retired his last 21 batters and threw 76 of 108 pitches for strikes in a game that took only 2 hours, 18 minutes.

"Ever since I came off the DL, I haven't felt anything," said Niese, sidelined from May 17 to June 4 with a strained right hamstring. "Before that, I felt some lingering soreness. When I went on the DL, I got some rest and it's paid off."

The previous Mets pitcher to throw a complete-game, one-hitter that lasted the full nine innings was Aaron Heilman on April 15, 2005, against Florida. New York has never had a no-hitter in its 49-season history.

Niese received a warm ovation when he came out for the ninth. Moments later, the 23-year-old lefty took a cream pie in the face from teammate Angel Pagan during a postgame interview.

"Anytime you have an outing such as this when you're really dominant, that gives you another level of confidence," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He's commanding all his pitches and is a very confident young man."

Chris Carter hit a leadoff double in the second off Jon Garland (6-4) and scored on Jeff Francoeur's bloop single.

With runners on first and second, rookie Ruben Tejada hit a one-hopper at Headley. He stepped on third and threw to second baseman Lance Zawadzki, whose relay beat Tejada by at least a step.

"It was kind of strange because I was actually thinking about it before it happened," Headley said. "Definitely the most routine one I've ever seen."

It was the eighth triple play in Padres history and first since May 19, 1997, when pitcher Andy Ashby, shortstop Chris Gomez and first baseman Archi Cianfrocco did it against Cincinnati's Ed Taubensee.

"It was nice, but at the end of the day it really wasn't worth anything," Gonzalez said.

Niese drew a leadoff walk in the third and went to third base when catcher Yorvit Torrealba threw wildly past first for an error on Reyes' bunt single. David Wright had a run-scoring groundout and Ike Davis followed with a two-out RBI single.

The Mets took two of three from surprising San Diego for their eighth win in the past nine series at home. New York has won 20 of 25 at Citi Field, improving to 24-10 overall in its pitcher-friendly ballpark.

The nightcap was a makeup of Wednesday night's rainout.

In the opener, the lack of run support was nothing new for Santana (4-3), who pitched 15 shutout innings over his previous two starts without getting a decision. This time, he squandered a two-run lead and took the loss.

"There's not much I can do," Santana said. "I just have to pitch my game. I know that sooner or later the offense is going to pick up."

The 22-year-old Latos (6-4) went six innings and struck out eight. The right-hander set down his last 13 batters, improving to 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA and 47 strikeouts in his last seven starts.

"I know with what I've got, if I can get ahead in the count 0-2, 1-2, I've got stuff that I can put away a lot of guys," Latos said.

Then, the Padres turned to their dominant bullpen. Luke Gregerson fanned all three batters in the seventh, Mike Adams worked a perfect eighth and ex-Met Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 20 chances.

"We have a great TEAM," Bell said. "You put us individually, we might not be the best guys out there. But you put us together, and we're solid."

Game notes
Santana's scoreless streak ended at 18 2/3 innings. ... San Diego was shut out for the third time this season.

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