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Niese Shuts Out Nationals

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Jonathon Niese (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Jonathon Niese (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a tight duel with Jonathon Niese, one
mistake cost Edwin Jackson.

Niese pitched into the eighth inning and Ike Davis hit a two-run
homer off Jackson in the seventh to lead the New York Mets over the
Washington Nationals 2-0 Saturday night.

Jackson (7-8) had allowed only a triple to Mike Baxter in the
first inning and set a season high with 10 strikeouts through six.
But in the seventh, the right-hander issued a leadoff walk to David
Wright and Davis drove the next pitch the other way to left field
for his 22nd home run.

Seventeen of his 22 homers have come on the road, most in the
NL.

“I wasn’t trying to go anywhere. I was just trying to hit the
ball,” Davis said.

“We didn’t really do a great job of that tonight, partly
because (Jackson) was so nasty. But he left a fastball up and away
and I hit it on the barrel and it got out of there.”

Niese (10-6) allowed one-out singles to Danny Espinosa and Ryan
Zimmerman in the first. With Espinosa on third, Zimmerman stole
second, but the left-hander pitched out of trouble.

“Oh, man. He was nasty tonight. He had everything. He was
throwing all his pitches for strikes. His fastball was moving
everywhere and his slider was real sharp,” Davis said.
After allowing a leadoff single to Espinosa in the sixth, Niese
retired the last seven batters he faced.

“It was one of those nights where everything felt good,” he
said.

Jon Rauch relieved Niese with one out in the eighth and retired
his only two hitters. Frank Francisco worked a perfect ninth for
his 20th save in 23 chances.

Francisco was helped by Baxter, who made a nice running catch of
Zimmerman’s fly ball to right to start the ninth.

“It was a good catch. I really had no idea why he was there,
but he got me out,” Zimmerman said.

Niese, who is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in six games against
Washington, allowed five hits and struck out seven without a walk.

“It seems like when you need him most, he steps up,” Mets
manager Terry Collins said. “Tonight he knew we needed him again
and he gave us a great outing.”

New York posted its 11th shutout of the season, while Washington
was blanked for the fifth time.

Jackson pitched seven innings, allowing two runs and two hits.
He walked one and struck out 11.

“Tonight, Niese was the better pitcher. He held us scoreless.
The bullpen did the same. I gave up two runs. I lost,” Jackson
said.

Washington manager Davey Johnson was impressed, though.

“That was probably the most dominant I’ve seen him pitch,”
Johnson said. “He was fun watching. His stuff was so electric. He
was overmatching them.”

It was only New York’s fourth win in 14 games against the NL
East leaders this season.

“It’s great to beat them. You always want to beat the best. And
right now they’re the best in the division,” Davis said.

The Nationals remained four games ahead of second-place Atlanta,
which lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The two teams begin a
three-game series Monday in Washington.

NOTES: Collins said he would meet with general manager Sandy
Alderson on Monday to discuss struggling LHP Johan Santana. Collins
said Santana is scheduled to pitch Thursday. The 33-year-old
left-hander, who missed last season following major shoulder
surgery, permitted six runs and seven hits over five innings Friday
in his second outing since spending three weeks on the disabled
list with a sprained ankle. He has lost five straight starts,
giving up at least six runs in each one. Collins said Santana
wasn’t asking to be shut down. “I don’t think he’s asking for it.
What he’s basically saying is if that’s what we think we should do
to make sure he’s healthy next year, he’s on board with that,”
Collins said. … Johnson said he would give SS Ian Desmond the day
off on Sunday. Desmond returned Friday from more than three weeks
on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. … For the
500th straight time, the character portraying Teddy Roosevelt lost
in the Nationals’ “Racing Presidents” mascot race. … The crowd
of 42,662 was the second-largest in Nationals Park history. …
Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (15-6, 3.29 ERA) pitches Sunday against
New York RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-4, 4.76).

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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