Niese retired 17 straight batters at one point en route to his second career shutout, ran through Tim Teufel’s stop sign to score the game’s opening run, then produced a three-run double later as the Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-0, Tuesday night at Citi Field in the first game of the post-Byrd/John Buck era.
The Mets (59-71) moved back even with the Phillies (60-72) for third place in the NL East, albeit nearly a percentage point behind. The Mets snapped a five-game losing streak.
Niese, who you may recall actually was the Opening Day starter, not Harvey, was every much the ace on this night. After surrendering a leadoff single to Michael Young in the second inning, Niese erased him by coaxing a double-play grounder from Darin Ruf. The Phillies did not place another runner on base until Young doubled just beyond the range of Juan Lagares in left-center to lead off the eighth.
Niese’s line: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. He threw 113 pitches.
His other career shutout came June 10, 2010, in a one-hitter against the San Diego Padres.
The Mets had one other shutout this season: Harvey against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 7.
Niese returned Aug. 11 after missing nearly two months with a partially torn rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder. In the three starts subsequent to that return outing at Arizona, the southpaw has now limited opponents to two runs on 14 hits and five walks while striking out 22 in 22 innings.
Meanwhile, four innings after scoring from second base on Daniel Murphy’s single, Niese came to bat with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. He fouled off one full-count offering from Kyle Kendrick, then delivered a three-run double into the left-center gap for a 5-0 lead.
Niese became the first Mets pitcher with three RBIs in a game since Al Leiter also had a three-run double, against Woody Williams of the Padres at Shea Stadium on Aug. 12, 1999. The last time a Mets pitcher had three RBIs against the Phillies: Pete Falcone on Sept. 29, 1981 at Veterans Stadium.
What’s next: Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his second Mets start. Matsuzaka (0-1, 9.00 ERA) was roughed up for five runs in the opening two innings Friday against the Detroit Tigers before following with three scoreless frames. He opposes left-hander Cole Hamels (5-13, 3.62) on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m.