Niese helps Mets' split squad beats Cardinals 7-2
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) Jon Niese struck out six in four innings, and a New York Mets' split squad defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 Thursday.
Niese allowed one run and three hits and walked none in his third and longest outing of spring training. He had a 3.40 ERA in 30 starts last year, when he went on the disabled list twice, with elbow inflammation and a strained left shoulder.
''It feels good to pitch without any pain,'' Niese said. ''It was pretty hot out there and I hit a wall at the end but it was good that I was able to pitch through it.''
St. Louis scored off Niese in the third when Kolten Wong doubled, was sacrificed to third and came around on Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly.
''I'm just getting the arm strength and stamina up to be able to throw 100 pitches,'' Niese said. ''I'm not worried about velocity, just worrying about location. During the season, when my arm gets in 100 percent shape, the velocity will get there.''
Daniel Murphy singled and scored on John Mayberry Jr.'s sacrifice fly in the first, then left between innings with what the Mets said was right hamstring tightness.
David Wright had two of the Mets' 10 hits.
New York's Wilmer Flores homered off Jaime Garcia, his second of spring training, and raised his average to .406 (13 for 32).
''You can really get fooled in spring training so you have to be careful,'' Mets manager Terry Collins said. ''Wilmer had a great last month (of 2014) and I'm looking at that. He came up and handled himself at shortstop, swung the bat very, very well especially at the end of the season, and he's continued it this spring. But when those bring lights come on, you find out who can play.''
BREAKING A SLUMP
After homering for just his second hit in 25 at-bats, the Cardinals' Peter Bourjos said the team's off day Wednesday helped him, thanks to his wife. Bourjos said he was working on his swing in front of a mirror and Ashley saw him. ''My wife kept yelling at me,'' Bourjos said. ''Just stop that, get away from it for a day.'' Bourjos underwent hip surgery during the offseason.
Adam Wainwright is to make his first start Saturday, against Atlanta. Carlos Martinez, bidding for the fifth-starter's spot, also is scheduled to pitch.
Garcia wasn't pleased he needed 72 pitches to get through four innings. He struck out seven and walked one in his third start following season-ending thoracic-outlet surgery. ''It's always a good sign that the ball is moving, but my priority is to get quick outs and I threw a lot of pitches,'' Garcia said. ''That's not what you want to do.''
Mets: Shoulder soreness is expected to sideline Mets RHP Vic Black for at least two more days. Collins said he is becoming concerned that Black will be ready for the start of the season.
Cardinals: CF Jon Jay could make his spring training debut Friday. Jay has taken swings against Wainwright and Lance Lynn this week as he makes his way back from offseason left wrist surgery.
The same teams will play in Port St. Lucie on Friday. Michael Wacha makes his third start for the Cardinals and Bartolo Colon his fourth for New York. New York closer Bobby Parnell is scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game, his first appearance since Tommy John surgery last April.