Niese has rough go in Grapefruit debut, allowing four runs
JUPITER, Fla. -- A game that saw numerous lead changes ended up a 9-8 win for the Mets after Zach Lutz hit a tie-breaking solo homer off Trevor Rosenthal in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium.
The Cardinals had the advantage after the fifth, taking the lead when second baseman Kolten Wong, who homered earlier in the afternoon, doubled off Mets reliever Jose Valverde. Daniel Descalso followed with his second hit of the game to drive home his first runs of spring.
The Mets had taken the lead in the top half of the frame with five runs off lefty Tim Cooney, who projects to begin the season in the Triple-A rotation. A groundout and an infield single pushed home the first two runs of the inning before outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis took Cooney deep for a three-run homer. Cooney was pulled after retiring only two of the eight batters he faced.
St. Louis had built a four-run lead with the help of a strong start by Adam Wainwright. Wainwright, having recently recovered from strep throat, threw 52 pitches over 3 1/3 innings. Mets third baseman Josh Satin tagged him for a home run in the second for one of two hits Wainwright allowed in his second start of the spring. He struck out two, walked one and threw 33 of his pitches for strikes.
The Cardinals answered Satin's solo shot with four runs off Mets starter Jon Niese in the bottom half of the frame. Making his spring debut, Niese issued a leadoff walk, which Wong followed with his first home run of the spring. Since starting the Grapefruit League 0-for-10, Wong has five hits in his last eight at-bats.
Later in the inning, projected cleanup hitter Allen Craig drove home Descalso and Jhonny Peralta with a double off the center-field wall. Over two innings, Niese allowed eight of the 14 batters he faced to reach. The lefty threw 32 of his 50 pitches for strikes.
Matt Holliday pushed the Cardinals' early lead to four runs with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly off Rafael Montero.
Randy Choate and Jorge Rondon made scoreless appearances for the Cardinals.
Up next: John Lannan will make what could be one of his final spring starts on Wednesday in a 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Cardinals at Tradition Field. Though Lannan has allowed just one earned run in four innings, the Mets may soon begin looking at him for a relief role. Now that Josh Edgin and Jack Leathersich are in Minor League camp, Scott Rice is the team's only left-handed reliever, creating a bullpen opportunity for Lannan.