Niese (4-3) ignored a divot in the mound long enough to win his third straight start and Angel Pagan(notes) drove in three runs with three hits to help the Mets stretch their winning streak to six games by beating the Cleveland Indians 8-4 Wednesday night.
All nine batters in the Mets’ starting lineup had a hit. New York has won 10 of 11 and is a major league-best 17-5 since May 21 to move from last place in the NL East to a half-game behind first-place Atlanta.
“This is what we anticipated,” manager Jerry Manuel said after the Mets tied a season high with seven doubles, two by Ike Davis(notes). “We’re built on pitching and defense. If we stay hot with the bats, we’ll be a really, really good team.”
Mets starters are 16-3 with a 2.61 ERA over 27 games since May 17 and Niese is 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in three June starts. In his last three starts before going on the disabled list May 17 to June 4 with a strained right hamstring, he was 0-1 with an 8.76 ERA.
“I went out to pitch and whoa, saw a hole in the mound,” Niese said. “It was not big, but deep. I tried to deal with it.”
While Niese stayed healthy, Mets left fielder Jason Bay(notes) left in the sixth with a bruised left thigh. He tumbled over the bag and ran into first baseman Andy Marte(notes) while beating out a first-inning single.
“It knotted up on me,” Bay said. “My left leg hit his butt. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
Niese, coming off a one-hit shutout of San Diego for his first complete game on Thursday, gave up three runs and eight hits over seven innings.
“It’s great to play behind him,” Pagan said. “He’s really been pitching well.”
The Indians, without injured shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera(notes) and center fielder Grady Sizemore(notes), have not been catching the ball. Following a 7-4 loss Tuesday in which Cleveland infielders failed to make some routine plays during a five-run Mets rally, the Indians outfield didn’t distinguish itself in New York’s five-run third.
“Another big inning killed us,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “Another five-run inning. It was too much for us to catch up.”
David Wright(notes) then doubled over the head of leftfielder Shelley Duncan(notes), the ball landing on the warning track as the speedy Reyes and Pagan easily scored. Next, Ike Davis drove a ball to left and Duncan turned left, then right, before lunging and missing it as Wright scored.
“We didn’t sign Shelley because we think he can win the Gold Glove,” Acta said. We signed him because of his bat. We’re not going to blame him for that.
“They hit the ball off the wall. We can’t be blaming people for not playing balls off the wall. We need to get ground balls or balls that don’t get to the wall if you want to win.”
Duncan’s two-out, two-run homer on a full count in the bottom half made it 5-2.
Talbot gave up eight runs and 13 hits over 5 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Niese grew up in Lima, Ohio, and left 43 tickets for family and friends. … The Mets have 34 runs (6.8 per game) during a five-game road winning streak. They averaged 4.1 in their first 26 road games, going 8-18. … Indians OF Trevor Crowe(notes) sat out with a sore right knee. He fouled a ball of it Saturday night. … Cleveland pitchers Justin Masterson(notes), David Huff(notes) and Hector Ambriz(notes) put on an impressive home-run display during batting practice, but manager Manny Acta expects to give the bunt sign to his hurlers a lot during an upcoming nine-game stretch in NL ballparks. “The better you are bunting, swinging the bat and running the bases, that’s going to stop the manager from taking you out of the game,” Acta said. “If I know a guy isn’t capable of bunting, that’s probably going to shorten his outing.” … New York is 24-6 when Reyes scores a run.