July 24 will be a date to remember for Jon Niese, but it will not be because of his start against the Dodgers.
Niese, whose wife gave birth to the couple's second child Friday night, allowed three runs and eight hits in three innings in the Mets' 7-2 loss to the Dodgers in front of 36,066 fans at Citi Field. He allowed a pair of home runs, walked one, hit a batter and struck out one in falling to 5-9.
The Mets said Niese was able to watch the birth of his son on his phone via FaceTime, and Terry Collins said the day's event may have contributed to his starter's struggles.
"I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was a pretty large factor," the manager said. "He was on-call up until probably 5 o'clock, when he determined he wanted to pitch. Maybe even later than that. Probably 5:30. We discussed the whole thing, he wanted to pitch, so he did."
Niese's opponent was slated to be big-league ERA leader Zack Greinke, but Greinke's wife also gave birth to a son Friday, and he was placed on the paternity list. Greinke now is scheduled to pitch Sunday.
Ian Thomas (1-1), who had a 4.71 ERA in 23 career relief appearances, made his first major-league start in Greinke's place, allowing one run, three hits and no walks with five strikeouts in five innings.
The Mets managed only six hits. Outfield prospect Michael Conforto went 0-for-3 with an RBI groundout in his major-league debut.
The Mets trailed before they even came to bat, as a double by former Met Justin Turner allowed Howie Kendrick to score from first.
The Dodgers loaded the bases to start the second inning on a pair of singles and a hit batsman. A run scored when Thomas hit into a double play and Joc Pederson doubled down the first-base line to make it 3-0.
A solo shot by Turner and a two-run home run by Yasiel Puig to almost an identical spot made it 6-0 in the third.
"It was one of those things where they got to him a little bit early and a lot of things happened in his personal life . . . He battled," catcher Kevin Plawecki said of Niese, adding that the pitcher "gave us 110 percent."
Friday night's start snapped Niese's streak of quality starts at eight games and brought his season ERA to 3.75.
Carlos Torres (three innings), Hansel Robles (two innings) and Alex Torres (one inning) kept the game from getting out of hand, combining to allow one run, four hits and no walks and strike out five, but the six-run deficit was too deep a hole for the Mets to overcome.
Conforto's RBI groundout in the fifth got the Mets on the board, but after Daniel Murphy's run-scoring single an inning later, the Mets got only one other man on base.
Things will not get easier for the Mets, who are averaging a National League-worst 3.41 runs per game and still will have to face Greinke.
The righty, who has a 1.30 ERA, has thrown 432/3 straight scoreless innings and is in pursuit of former Dodger Orel Hershiser's major-league record of 59 consecutive shutout innings.
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