Niese made an error and the Giants were flawless on the mound

Rich Mancuso

Jonathon Niese has been looking for that long outing on the mound for the New York Mets. And Friday night at Citi Field he pitched into the ninth inning for the first time this season. What Niese did not need was a costly throwing error that assisted the San Francisco Giants to a 5-1 win.

The Giants, in a NL West divisional race with the Dodgers did not make it easier for the Mets in their not to distance quest for a wild card spot in the National league. The main culprit was right-hander Ryan Vogelsong who went the distance, 9.0 innings for the first time in his career on two-hits.

It was that type of game for the Mets who dropped the first of a three-game series. And if they have any outside chance to sneak into the post season, two hits won’t do it.  Winning series will have to be a part of the equation as well with the calendar turning to August.

Vogelsong snapped a personal five-game losing streak. The way he pitched, and with the Giants probably losing right-hander Matt Cain to an elbow injury for the season, manager Bruce Boche will need more outstanding efforts from Vogelsong who pitched to 28-batters and threw 108 pitches and his second career complete game.

As for Niese, a throwing error in the second inning paved the way for a two-run Giants inning. The way this game was going, two runs was enough for Vogelsong who has had no run support in five of his last six starts. The Giants have also had their problems scoring runs at home and more on the road.

The error frustrated Niese who tied a season high of 8.0 innings and was working on a low pitch count.

 The inning started with a double from Juan Perez, the Bronx native who was called up from Triple-A Fresno. Niese botched a ball that was bounced back to him off Gregor Blanco and failed trying to nail Perez at second. Perez would go to third and score on one of three runs batted in from Hunter Pence.

"It's unfortunate, because that's a situation where I can't make a mistake, and I did," Niese said about the two unearned runs."Just made a mistake and paid for it, costing us runs and, ultimately, the game."

Niese, (5-7) allowed nine hits and five runs, of which three were earned and he hit two batters. The left-hander is 0-3 with a 4.74 ERA since coming off the 15-day disabled list On July 15th and allowed three earned runs or less in 23 of his last 24 starts.

So, was this a good outing for Niese, or a costly lost for the Mets? Take it either way. The Mets starting pitching has overall been outstanding that helped pave the way for a team record of 15-10 in July, tied for most in the National League with Pittsburgh and fourth in baseball and Niese needs to go longer in games as one of the key starters in their rotation.

"We've got to get this guy lengthened out, so it's not an effort for him to pitch the seventh," Manager Terry Collins said. "I thought it was really good for Jon to be out there late in the game.”

But on this night, the Mets could do nothing with Vogelsong. There was the ground ball single by Juan Lagares in the sixth inning that broke up a no-hit bid and a leadoff home run from Lucas Duda in the eighth inning. Lagares is 7-for his last 13 at the plate, and Duda, his 20th home run to the opposite field in left, continues to compile big numbers.

It was Duda’s seventh straight game driving in a run, his sixth long ball since the all-star break and with 61 RBI among the league leaders.  The issue here for the Mets is their inability to beat the Giants, fifth straight and six of seven since last September.

Seven games back from the division leading Nationals, and six games off the pace for the second wild card. The Mets feel they are in it and want to make this an interesting stretch, but to do that they need to find a way and that is take this series from the Giants.

 Niese, is a key, as is the rest of the pitching staff that has kept the Mets in the hunt.