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Niese hurls six innings of two-run ball

MILWAUKEE -- Jon Niese has come a long way since he first pitched at Miller Park.

Four years ago, Niese made his Major League debut on Sept. 2, 2008, against the Brewers. That night, he was roughed up for five runs on seven hits over just three innings of work. The Mets came back to win that game, but it was a forgettable night for Niese.

Making his third career start in Milwaukee, Niese delivered a solid outing Friday night as the Mets snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory.

"I definitely thought about it, but obviously this time was a little bit better result," Niese said. "It was kind of neat, just to be here again."

Niese went six innings, giving up two runs on six hits and three walks. He also recorded four strikeouts in his 11th victory of the season, tying a career high set a year ago.

The lefty won for the first time since Aug. 18 at Washington, though it qualified as his fourth straight quality start since that date. The difference Friday was the amount of run support Niese received from the offense.

Seven runs marked the most the Mets have scored in any of Niese's 11 second-half starts. It also was higher than his previous three outings -- all losses -- combined. Niese improved to 11-9 on the season, while lowering his ERA to 3.46.

"It's good," Niese said of the four early runs. "It makes a pitcher feel a lot more comfortable on the mound when you've got the lead."

Over their recent six-game losing streak, the Mets scored just nine runs. They tallied nearly as many in six innings Friday night.

No Mets hitter had previously faced Mike Fiers, but they still jumped all over the Brewers rookie, putting up a pair of runs in each of the first two innings. Ike Davis collected an RBI groundout in the first, and Lucas Duda followed with a two-out double to drive in David Wright.

The Mets extended their lead in the second inning when Daniel Murphy delivered a two-out, two-run homer to the second deck in right, making it 4-0.

"He actually had good stuff," Duda said of Fiers. "His fastball's really sneaky. He kind of throws across his body and he has good stuff. It was just one of those days, and we got him. He looked just kind of erratic with his command, but overall, good stuff."

After being brilliant through his first 12 starts of the season, Fiers has struggled a bit more of late for the Brewers. Including his outing Friday, the young right-hander has given up nine earned runs on 17 hits over 13 1/3 innings in three September starts.

Fiers lasted just five innings as the Mets' bats came alive with their biggest offensive output since scoring nine runs on Aug. 28. He allowed four runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts, and the Brewers' bullpen did not give him much relief, either.

With their lead cut to two runs, the Mets put up three big insurance runs in the sixth on three hits -- including Duda's 14th homer of the season -- and a pair of crucial throwing errors by the Brewers' middle infielders. The three-run frame was the Mets' first with three or more runs since Sept. 5 at St. Louis.

"We haven't played this type of game in a while," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, whose club had been playing so crisply in winning nine straight home games. "I know it's going to happen once in a while, but we certainly need to bounce back [Saturday] and play a lot better."

With the Brewers, Phillies, Pirates and Braves -- all Wild Card contenders in the National League -- on the schedule over the next three weeks, the Mets could play the role of spoiler.

"They're in the hunt," Mets manager Terry Collins said of the Brewers. "They don't make many mistakes, and so when they do, you've got to capitalize on them. And we did tonight."

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