Mets look to support Niese against Phillies

( – Jon Niese hopes for some better defense behind him on
Wednesday when the New York Mets wrap up a three-game set with the
Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field.

Niese gave up a leadoff home run to Cameron Maybin on Friday in Atlanta, but a
pair of fielding errors by Wilmer Flores caused him to surrender two unearned
runs. He gave up seven hits in five innings and did not factor in the decision
of his team’s 5-3 loss.

The left-hander has faced Philadelphia 19 times and is 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA.

Philadelphia will counter with righty Jerome Williams, who was superb on
Friday against Washington. Williams pitched well enough to win his season
debut, as he gave up a run, five hits and struck out six over six innings, but
did not get a decision in his team’s 4-1 win.

Williams’ effort was a sharp contrast to how he closed the spring. Williams
had allowed 28 hits, 17 runs (14 earned runs), two walks and struck out 10 in
12 2/3 innings in his final three Grapefruit League starts.

“It was just throwing the ball down,” Williams said about Friday’s success. “I
can’t really pinpoint what it was (in Spring Training). I know it wasn’t
feeling right. I knew how to fix it and I wasn’t really fixing it at all.”

Williams is 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in four starts versus the Mets.

New York has won the first two games of this set after a wild win before an
electric crowd last night. Matt Harvey earned the win in his return to Citi
Field and the Mets eked out a 6-5 victory on Tuesday.

Harvey (2-0), who was sidelined during the 2014 season after Tommy John
surgery, gave up three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts and no walks
over six innings. It was his first home start since Aug. 24, 2013.

Lucas Duda drove in three runs and doubled twice, Daniel Murphy homered and
Curtis Granderson scored twice for New York, which has won three straight

“Good teams find a way to win,” Duda said. “We’re a scrappy team and we will
find a way to win somehow.”

The Mets lost two players during the course of the game. Outfielder Michael
Cuddyer left the game with a left hand contusion after getting hit by a pitch
during the second inning and third baseman David Wright exited during the
eighth with a pulled right hamstring.

Wright is likely headed toward the disabled list.

“Real frustrating,” he said. “Hopefully for me the worst-case scenario is two

Chase Utley finished 3-for-3 with two homers and three RBI, while Jeff
Francoeur and Cody Asche also homered for the Phillies, who had starter David
Buchanan (0-2) give up five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 frames in the loss.

“Chase rose to the occasion of playing a very good pitcher,” Philadelphia
manager Ryne Sandberg said. “I think he stepped up and gave us a boost early.”

The Mets won 13 of 19 from the Phillies last season.

As has been tradition each April 15 since 2009, Major League Baseball will
celebrate Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing
No. 42 during that day’s games, including the Civil Rights Game at Dodger