NEW YORK (AP) - Jonathon Niese stepped nicely into his new role as No. 1 starter for the Mets, and Collin Cowgill capped a successful New York debut with a grand slam in an 11-2 rout of the San Diego Padres on Monday.
Handed the opening day assignment in place of injured Johan Santana, Niese enjoyed a big afternoon with both his arm and bat. He breezed into the seventh inning against a Padres lineup missing slugger Chase Headley (broken thumb) and catcher Yasmani Grandal, suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.
Marlon Byrd had a pair of RBI singles and fellow Mets newcomer John Buck was in the middle of three rallies as New York improved baseball's best opening day record to 34-18 despite dropping its first eight openers.