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Niese's shutout improves Mets' mood

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Jonathon Niese threw his first shutout in more than three years Tuesday night. It only seemed that long since the New York Mets had a reason to smile.

Niese did it all for the Mets, firing a three-hitter and contributing to four of the Mets' runs as New York ended a five-game losing streak with a 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field.

The Mets won just hours after Marlon Byrd and John Buck were traded to the Pirates, and one day after staff ace Matt Harvey learned he has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

"All these guys do is they want to pick each other up," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Matt goes down, Zack (Wheeler) pitches a great game (in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies on Monday). Jon follows it.

"We talked today with a bunch of guys (and said), 'Listen, you've got to pick each other up here. That's what it's all about.' Jon Niese gave us what we needed tonight, and that's a great performance."

Niese's gem -- his first nine-inning complete game and his first shutout since he one-hit the Padres on June 10, 2010 -- lifted the moods of his teammates and manager.

Before the game, the Mets played country music in honor of Byrd and Buck. As the music played, normally loquacious Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins declined an interview request.

"I'm in mourning about my buddies being traded," Hawkins said.

Collins was particularly downcast during his pregame press conference while discussing Harvey's injury, knowing the Mets were close to trading Byrd and Buck.

Following the game, Collins elicited laughter when he smashed a mosquito with his bare hand.

"When you're old, you've still got to be quick sometimes," Collins said.

In the locker room, reliever Scott Atchison noticed reporters milling about Niese's locker. "You guys want to talk to a reliever?" Atchison said.

Niese said, "It was just a overall great win for us today. After getting the news of Harvey, it's one of those things where we need to press on and do our jobs. There's still a little over a month left this year, so we want to finish strong."

Accomplishing that goal got tougher when the Mets traded Byrd, who led the team with 21 homers and 71 RBIs, and Buck, who ranked second with 60 RBIs and third with 15 homers. In addition, David Wright (.309, 16 homers, 54 RBIs) is likely out another week due to a strained right hamstring.

However, Niese proved to be an unlikely offensive catalyst Tuesday, when he drew a one-out walk in the third inning and ran through coach Tim Teufel's stop sign to score the Mets' first run on Daniel Murphy's two-out single.

"I told myself there were two outs, I'm going to run on the swing and if it's a hit I'm getting home," Niese said. "I had my mind set on getting home. By the time I saw the stop sign, it was too late."

With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning, Niese laced a full count pitch from Kyle Kendrick to the opposite field for a three-run double, extending the lead to 5-0.

"Might have been one of the better at-bats we've had in the last five days," Collins said with a grin.

On the mound, Niese -- who was making his fourth start since returning from a partial tear of his left rotator cuff -- retired 16 in a row, including 12 via ground ball, between Michael Young's second-inning single and Young's eighth-inning double.

Niese struck out five and walked just one. Jimmy Rollins drew a five-pitch walk with two outs in the ninth, but Niese got Chase Utley to fly out to center on the next pitch and slapped his left hand into his glove upon seeing Juan Lagares make the catch.

"It was kind of a one-man show," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "(Niese) was on top of his game, pitching-wise."

Kendrick (10-11) took the loss for the Phillies after allowing five runs -- one earned -- over six innings. He gave up five hits and four walks (two intentional) while striking out three. All four of the Mets' runs in the sixth inning were unearned thanks to a throwing error by first baseman Kevin Frandsen.

NOTES: To replace Byrd and Buck, the Mets recalled OF Matt den Dekker and C Anthony Recker from Triple-A Las Vegas. The Mets also placed Harvey on the 15-day disabled list and recalled LHP Robert Carson from Las Vegas. ... Harvey is expected to require Tommy John surgery, but he tweeted Tuesday that he would "be back next year for April 1." Mets GM Sandy Alderson told ESPNNewYork.com that the team had no new information that led it to believe Harvey would definitely be able to rehab the injury without surgery. ... Phillies OF Dominic Brown didn't start for a third straight game because of a sore right Achilles. He pinch-hit in each of the Phillies' previous two games but didn't play Tuesday. ... With left-handed-hitting Cody Asche getting the night off against Niese, Young started at third base for the Phillies for just the sixth time since Asche was promoted on July 30.
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