ST. LOUIS -- To compensate for early exits, Jonathan Niese did some extra throwing in his bullpen session. Besides the work, manager Terry Collins thought it was no coincidence the lefty rediscovered his groove in shirt-sleeve weather and paved the way for the New York Mets' slump-buster.
"I knew he was going to get it going," Collins said after Niese's bounce-back game on a clear, sunny, 76-degree day helped the Mets end their losing streak at six with a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday. "As the weather starts to get warm, you're going to see the Jon Niese we're all accustomed to seeing."
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Niese (3-4) allowed two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season. He ended his four-game losing streak over five starts since a win at Minnesota on April 12.
"Every pitch felt good," Niese said. "Obviously, our game plan was just to keep attacking the hitters. Yeah, it felt good."
The Mets avoided a four-game sweep by getting to the Cardinals ace. Wainwright (5-3) was coming off a two-hit shutout in which he no-hit the Rockies for 7 1/3 innings.
"They had a great frame of mind," Collins said. "I thought they had great energy. Jon pitching well really helped us, too."
Murphy went 4 for 4 to match his career high, doubled twice and walked and totaled 10 hits in the series. He's 6 for 9 against Wainwright, and swinging well enough that Collins has thought about moving him from the second slot to fifth for RBI potential.
"I think we were just able to string together a lot of quality at-bats," Murphy said. "There were a lot of good at-bats other than mine. It was nice to be able to feel you contribute."
Wright doubled, singled and drove in two runs, plus started two double plays at third base against cleanup man Allen Craig.
"That's the name of the game sometimes," Craig said. "You hit it hard and it goes right at them."
The Cardinals have never swept the Mets in a four-game series at home, almost always playing three-game sets.
Wainwright faltered after allowing one hit with four strikeouts the first time through the order, but after his outing ended at 87 pitches he confessed, "Yeah, I was surprised." He allowed three earned runs in six innings, and is 1-4 with a 7.29 ERA against the Mets for his career.
"I made a couple of mistakes over the middle of the plate," Wainwright said. "I don't think it's time to start talking about fatigue or anything like that."
Niese had permitted 15 runs in 8 1/3 innings in his previous two starts, but kept the Cardinals off-balance.
Niese is 3-1 in five starts against the Cardinals. He had three strikeouts and two walks to make him even on the year with 24 strikeouts and walks.
Newly signed Mets center fielder Rick Ankiel appeared to get a late jump on Kozma's apparent routine fly ball and couldn't make a diving catch for an RBI double that put the Cardinals in front in the second.
Jordany Valdespin beat out a bunt with two outs in the Mets' third and scored on a headfirst slide on Murphy's double. Wright's single put the Mets ahead.
Murphy and Wright doubled to start the sixth to give Niese a two-run cushion. Wright later scored on Lucas Duda's sacrifice fly.
Murphy leads the Mets with 13 multi-hit games and is a career .360 hitter against the Cardinals.
Ankiel was credited with a ground-rule double leading off the seventh on a ball down the third-base line that appeared to glance off an usher's leg before hitting a railing. He was thrown out at second off the carom, and replays showed the usher barely made it out of the way.
The Mets' Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.44) opposes Edwin Jackson (1-5, 6.02) and to start a three-game series in Chicago Friday while Jaime Garcia (4-2, 2.88) opposes Wily Peralta (3-3, 5.40) to begin a three-game series against the Brewers. ... Mets 1B Ike Davis struck out four times while struggling against breaking balls and was 0 for-5. ... 1B umpire Tim Timmons missed a half-inning early in the game, returning before the bottom of the fourth. No reason was given for the absence. ... Since 2000, the Mets are 16-31 against the Cardinals in St. Louis. ... Mets starters had been 1-7 with a 5.72 ERA the previous 13 games. ... Seth Maness, who got the win Wednesday after allowing Ankiel's tying two-run homer in the seventh, is the Cardinals' only player since 1900 to earn three victories in relief in his first five career appearances. Jason Simontacchi won his first three relief appearances in 2003 after beginning his career in the rotation.
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