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WKEF-TV ABC 22 News :: Sports - Local Sports - Niese sharp in return, Mets lose to Reds 2-1

Niese sharp in return, Mets lose to Reds 2-1

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jonathon Niese put to rest any worries about his health. Travis d'Arnaud did little to set aside any concerns about his ability to hit big league pitching.

Niese was sharp into the sixth inning of his injury delayed first start of the season Sunday, when the New York Mets lost 2-1 to the Cincinnati Reds, missing an opportunity to finish off a three-game sweep.

"I was very, very impressed, his velocity stayed consistent throughout the game," manager Terry Collins said of Niese. "He's got a repertoire that's going to get people out."

Niese (0-1), who was slowed by shoulder weakness and elbow inflammation this spring, held Cincinnati to two hits through five innings but gave up three straight singles to open the sixth, beginning with Reds fill-in starter Alfredo Simon (1-0).

Chris Heisey, in the lineup for Billy Hamilton, who has a jammed left middle finger, and Brandon Phillips each singled to load the bases, and Joey Votto followed with a sacrifice fly and Ryan Ludwick singled to left for a 2-1 lead.

Jay Bruce then grounded to first base, ending Niese's day on his 90th pitch.

The left-hander allowed six hits and two runs in 5 2-3 innings in front of dozens of dogs at Citi Field on Bark in the Park day.

"I feel good, felt like the ball was coming out of my hand pretty well, obviously didn't have any pain," Niese said.

Collins thought the Mets had a chance to take a lead in the seventh when d'Arnaud sent a drive to left but it was caught at the warning track, extending the catcher's hitless start to 0 for 15.

"There's no easy answers here," Collins said. "The only way you do it is grind it out and have an approach, stick with it."

The Mets went into the season with the 25-year-old d'Arnaud as their primary catcher and no veteran backup the system. He missed much of last year on the disabled list and hit only .202 (20 for 99) in a 31-game stint in New York.

D'Arnaud was acquired from Toronto along with top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey after the knuckleballer won the CY Young Award in 2012 and the Mets are expecting him to be their starting catcher for years to come.

Right now, though, all Collins is concerned with is if d'Arnaud is letting this slump affect him psychologically.

"I'm worried about his mental approach more than anything," Collins said.

Said d'Arnaud: "My swing feels good, just trying to make good contact."

D'Arnaud threw out Phillips trying to steal second base in the third inning.

Simon pitched seven impressive innings in his first start since Sept. 28, 2011, for Baltimore, but manager Price tapped the right-hander because Mat Latos is rehabbing from knee and elbow operations. And Simon didn't disappoint. He allowed just four hits - including Juan Lagares' RBI single in the second - and threw 79 pitches.

Manny Parra retired all six batters he faced for his first career save, pitching the ninth instead of J.J. Hoover, who gave up Ike Davis' walkoff grand slam Saturday. Parra struck out Davis to end it Sunday.

"Can't ask for any more for Simon and Manny Parra," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

The Mets finished their first homestand 2-4 after struggling in Queens last season. They begin a nine-game trip in Atlanta on Tuesday and, even though Davis has four hits in his last six at-bats, Collins is going to stick with Lucas Duda at first base.

"I feel pretty good as a player right now," Davis said despite his new role as a bench player.

NOTES: The Mets struck out 61 times on the homestand, the most through their first six games. ... Curtis Granderson was 0 for 4 with two Ks and has fanned eight times in 24 at-bats. ... Phillips has a hit in all 29 games he's played against the Mets in New York. ... Mets INF Wilmer Flores was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Niese.Niese sharp in return, Mets lose to Reds 2-1

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BREWERS-REDS

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Johnny Cueto pitched seven solid innings, and the Cincinnati Reds stayed in the chase for the NL's top record by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 on Tuesday night after learning they'll be without their manager for the rest of the week.

The Brewers dropped back-to-back games for the first time in more than a month, and it came at a bad time. They started the day 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the final NL wild card spot.

They got no break from the Reds, who clinched the NL Central title on Saturday night.

Manager Dusty Baker met players before the game and revealed he suffered a mini-stroke in addition to being treated for an irregular heartbeat last week. The 63-year-old manager hopes to return to the dugout next week.

REDS-BAKER

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Dusty Baker won't manage the Cincinnati Reds until the final series in St. Louis, giving him time to recover from an irregular heartbeat that left him hospitalized last week.

Baker met with owner Bob Castellini and his team on Tuesday before a game against the Brewers. Bench coach Chris Speier said he'll manage the final three home games against Milwaukee and three in Pittsburgh over the weekend, with Baker taking over for the last three games next week.

The 63-year-old manager was hospitalized in Chicago last Wednesday for an irregular heartbeat, a problem he's had for a while. He was in the hospital for four days, missing the Reds' 6-0 win over the Dodgers on Saturday night that clinched the NL Central title.

INDIANS-WHITE SOX

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago White Sox have lost sole possession of first place in the AL Central race, with the Indians playing spoiler. Gordon Beckham hit into a game-ending forceout with the potential tying run on second base yesterday as the Indians downed the White Sox 4-3.

Down 4-0 in the fourth inning, the White Sox closed within a run when Paul Konerko homered off Chris Perez leading off the ninth. Perez walked a pair of batters with two outs, and Beckham grounded to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who threw to second baseman Jason Kipnis for the force.

Chicago (82-72) had held sole possession of the division lead since September 3. Detroit pulled into a tie for the division lead with its win over Kansas City last night.

T25-OHIO ST-MATCHING UP

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Through four games and four victories, Ohio State's defense has faced a continual drumbeat of short passes, quick routes, screens and sweeps.

Every opponent, it seems, has relied on a sleight of hand.

Now the Buckeyes are looking forward to getting into familiar territory when they open Big Ten play.

When No. 14 Ohio State travels to 20th-ranked Michigan State on Saturday, the Buckeyes anticipate they'll run into a more conventional Midwestern attack. Granted, that means having to counteract the 244-pound blasts of the Spartans' massive Le'Veon Bell.

But after a month of chasing people, the Buckeyes think they might benefit from a change of pace from the subterfuge and rush-avoiding quick-hitters in a trade for raw man-on-man power struggles at the line of scrimmage.

T25-UPTIGHT SPARTANS

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan State's lackluster win last weekend got to coach Mark Dantonio.

After the Spartans beat Eastern Michigan 23-7 Saturday, Dantonio hurried through a terse news conference full of abrupt answers. The Michigan State coach said "next question" seven times in under a minute and was clearly annoyed with the way his team played.

On Tuesday, Dantonio spoke with reporters for around a half-hour, but Michigan State isn't making any players or assistants available this week. The Spartans' coach is trying to send a clear message to his players that it's time to get serious.

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