June 19, 2009: Nieve and Schneider Lead Mets Past Rays

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Date: June 19, 2009
Mets starter: Fernando Nieve
Mets: 5
Rays: 3
Winning pitcher: Fernando Nieve
Key player(s): Fernando Nieve, Brian Schneider, David Wright, Ryan Church
Key play: Schneider’s home run, Wright’s double, Church’s RBI single

The Mets faced the Rays on a Friday night at Citi Field. The teams played the opener of a three-game interleague weekend series. Fernando Nieve pitched six solid innings and Brian Schneider hit a three-run homer in a 5-3 Mets win over Tampa Bay.

Nieve set down the side in order in the top of the first. Rays’ starter Andy Sonnanstine hurled a perfect bottom half and Fernando surrendered only a walk to Gabe Gross in the top of the second. Gary Sheffield got a one-out single in the bottom of the inning. Ryan Church drew a walk and Schneider homered for a 3-0 Mets lead. Luis Castillo was retired on a ground ball to shortstop Jason Bartlett. Sonnanstine then struck out Nieve to end the inning.

Dioner Navarro singled to lead off the top of the third. Sonnanstine hit a single and B. J. Upton flied out to right fielder Church. Carl Crawford grounded back to Nieve for an inning-ending double play and Alex Cora got a leadoff single in the bottom half. Daniel Murphy singled and Carlos Beltran followed with a double play grounder to second baseman Ben Zobrist. David Wright doubled to bring home Cora and extend the Mets’ lead to 4-0. Sheffield walked and Sonnanstine retired Church on a fly ball to right fielder Gross to close out the inning.

After scoreless fourth and fifth innings, Upton got an infield single to open the top of the sixth. Crawford was retired on a pop-up to shortstop Cora. With Evan Longoria at bat, Upton stole second base and moved to third on a wild pitch. Longoria drew a walk and Carlos Pena hit a force play ground ball to Nieve that brought home Upton with the Rays’ first run of the game. Nieve retired Zobrist on a fly ball to Church to finish off the inning. Sonnanstine then yielded just a single to Church in the bottom half.

Gross drew a walk against Mets’ reliever Bobby Parnell to open the top of the seventh. Bartlett singled and Navarro flied out to Church. Pinch-hitter Pat Burrell went down on strikes and Upton doubled to plate both Gross and Bartlett, cutting the Mets’ lead to 4-3. Crawford grounded back to Mets’ reliever Pedro Feliciano for the inning’s third out. Tampa Bay’s Lance Cormier then gave up only a single to Murphy in the bottom half.

Mets’ reliever Sean Green pitched a scoreless top of the eighth. Beltran singled against Cormier to begin the bottom of the inning. Rays’ reliever Dan Wheeler struck out Wright. Beltran stole second base and Sheffield went down on strikes. Church hit a single against the Rays’ J. P. Howell to bring home Beltran with the Mets’ fifth run. Ryan stole second and Howell fanned Schneider to end the inning.

Mets’ reliever Francisco Rodriguez retired Navarro on a fly ball to Church to start the top of the ninth. Willie Aybar grounded out to second baseman Castillo. Rodriguez then got Upton to fly out to center fielder Beltran and bring the game to an end. The Mets had a victory to open the series.