Kirk Nieuwenhuis producing in limited role

Mets catcher Anthony Recker hits a three-run home
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Mets catcher Anthony Recker hits a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers in the first inning at Citi Field on Sunday, July 6, 2014.(Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

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Kirk Nieuwenhuis revamped his swing in the offseason to eliminate as many moving parts as he could. By simplifying his mechanics, he hoped it might make it easier to produce.

Those changes appear to be working out well for Nieuwenhuis, who made the most of a spot start in Sunday's 8-4 win over the Rangers. In only his third start since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 19, Nieuwenhuis went 1-for-2 with a solo homer, two walks and three runs scored.

"I think playing every once in a while, coming off the bench and stuff like that, I think it makes [simplifying] more important to do and more crucial," he said. "You're not going to survive unless you do that."

Since rejoining the Mets, Nieuwenhuis has played sporadically in what has become a crowded outfield. Nevertheless, he's hitting .412 (7-for-17) since his recall.

"He's continuing to work on trying to calm his swing down and make it an easy swing so he can come off the bench easier," manager Terry Collins said.

Nieuwenhuis helped the Mets tack on after taking an early lead. His solo homer came in the sixth. In the eighth, he worked a walk, stole second and scored on Ruben Tejada's single.

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Extra bases

To close out the first half on a positive note, the Mets will have to perform well in a four-game set against the NL East-leading Braves that begins Monday night at Citi Field. "It's huge for us," Collins said. The Braves lead the Mets by 10 games . . . In his second game since returning from a shoulder injury, David Wright was 0-for-4 to end his hitting streak at 11 games . . . The Mets' 60 first-inning runs is tied with the A's for the most in baseball.

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