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Niese, Cora Key Victory

Washington, DC (Sports Network) – Alex Cora drove in three runs to back Jon Niese’s solid pitching performance, as the New York Mets held off the Washington Nationals, 5-3, in the second test of a four-game set at Nationals Park.

Niese (6-2) gave up one run on six hits in seven innings. The 23-year-old left-hander also struck out a career-high eight batters en route to winning his fifth straight decision. Niese also had an RBI.

Ike Davis knocked in a run for the Mets, who had lost three of four coming in. David Wright went 3-for-5 with a run scored for the victors.

Josh Willingham hit a solo homer for the Nationals, who have dropped seven of their past nine games. Roger Bernadina and Ian Desmond had an RBI apiece.

Luis Atilano (6-5) got rocked in 3 2/3 frames, allowing five runs on four hits. He also fanned four batters and walked two in the loss.

The Mets drew first blood in the first inning. Ruben Tejada was hit by a pitch and Wright singled in front of Davis’ RBI groundout.

New York added four runs in the fourth to build a 5-0 lead. Wright doubled, Davis walked, and Jason Bay walked to load the bases with nobody out. Following two outs, Cora cleared the bases with a triple. Niese helped his own cause with an RBI double.

Washington didn’t get a runner past first base until the fifth. Desmond hit a one-out double, but Niese retired the next two batters.

Willingham’s blast in the seventh made it a 5-1 game.

The Nationals made things interesting in the ninth. Pedro Feliciano struck out Adam Dunn before being replaced by Elmer Dessens. Ryan Zimmerman walked and advanced to third two batters later on Ivan Rodriguez’s double. Francisco Rodriguez then took over on the mound. Pinch-hitter Bernadina and Desmond hit back-to-back RBI singles to make it a 5-3 contest. However, Bernadina was caught leaning too far off second base. With Willie Harris batting, Francisco Rodriguez tossed to second for the final out.

Washington has still won seven of its last nine at home versus the Mets, who trail the season series, 6-4…New York was without shortstop Jose Reyes (lower back)…Francisco Rodriguez picked up his 19th save of the season…Mets outfielder Bay played in his 1,000th career game. He is the 13th Canadian-born player to appear in as many games.