Fernando Nieve (2-0) made his second consecutive strong start and picked up his second win of the season as the New York Mets defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3.Â Nieve (‘snow’ in Spanish) threw 102 pitches over 6 innings, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits.
The Mets took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning.Â Gary Sheffield singled to center and moved to 2nd base on a walk to Ryan Church.Â Then Brian Schneider demonstrated surprising strength in hitting his 1st home run of the season off loser Andy Sonnanstine (5-7) into the bullpen just to the right of the 415 foot sign in right center field.Â The Mets extended the lead to 4-0 in the 3rd inning when Alex Cora led off with a single.Â Daniel Murphy singled Cora to 2nd base, but was erased on a double play grounder by Carlos Beltran which moved Cora to 3rd from where a 2 out double by David Wright drove him in.
The only run Tampa Bay scored off Nieve came in the 6th inning when B.J. Upton scored on a ground out by Carlos Pena.Â The Rays made it close in the 7th when Upton hit a 2-run double off Bobby Parnell, but Perpetual Pedro Feliciano came on to snuff the rally.Â The Mets added an insurance run in the 8th on a Church single which plated Beltran.
Murphy demonstrated a stout swing with a smooth finish by singling 3 times in 4 at bats.Â Murphy is starting to get hot, going 7 for 12 in his last 3 games.Â Also stout for the Mets was Sean Green who struck out 3 in 1 inning of work.Â The last time Green allowed a run was May 15th.Â Green has now made 15 consecutive scoreless appearances, striking out 15 batters over 15 2/3 innings.Â Francisco Rodriguez bounced back from his poor Thursday night outing by retiring the Rays in order in the 9th for his 18th save.Â The Baltimore Orioles did the Mets a favor by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 and so the Mets head into Saturday just 2 games out of first place and with Johan Santana (8-4) taking the mound.
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