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Niese looks sharp in final Opening Day tune-up

Jon Niese delivers a pitch during a game

Jon Niese delivers a pitch during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. (Sept. 28, 2012) Credit: Getty

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In his final tune-up before Opening Day, lefty Jon Niese struck out seven in 4 1/3 shutout innings as the Mets beat the Astros 6-2 under the lights at Tradition Field.

"Early in the spring, I really didn't feel like I had all my pitches going at one time, but today I felt like I had everything going -- especially the curveball," said Niese, who lowered his spring ERA to 1.23. "I felt like for the most part I could control it, throw it for a strike and throw it in the dirt when I wanted to. Overall, my arm felt good and I'm ready to go."

Up next for Niese will be his first career Opening Day assignment on April 1 against Edinson Volquez and the Padres. Niese's mom, dad, wife and brothers will be in attendance.

Rightfielder Marlon Byrd hit his first homer of the spring while going 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Byrd solidified his hold on an outfield spot by hitting .346 in Grapefruit League play. Catcher John Buck went 3-for-4 while Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis added two hits each. Closer Bobby Parnell struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth.

Hard-throwing pitching prospect Domingo Tapia starts on Thursday against the Nationals.

New York Sports