NEW YORK — Jonathon Niese pitched a one-hitter for his first career complete game and the New York Mets overcame a triple play to beat the San Diego Padres 3-0 on Thursday night for a doubleheader split.
Niese allowed only Chris Denorfia’s leadoff double in the third inning, his second stellar start since coming off the disabled list Saturday. He faced 28 batters, one more than the minimum, in New York’s first complete game this season.
Mat Latos outpitched Johan Santana in the opener, and San Diego stopped New York’s nine-game home winning streak with a 4-2 victory.
Adrian Gonzalez had three hits for the Padres, including a go-ahead single. David Eckstein and Chase Headley added RBI doubles.
Latos and three relievers combined to retire the final 22 Mets after Henry Blanco’s two-run homer in the second inning, one of New York’s season-low two hits. Jose Reyes opened the game with an infield single.
Niese (3-2) topped that, however, striking out six and walking none in his fifth career win. He retired his last 21 in a game that took only two hours 18 minutes.
The last Mets pitcher to throw a complete-game, one-hitter that lasted the full nine innings was Aaron Heilman on April 15, 2005, against Florida.
Niese received a warm ovation when he came out for the ninth. The 23-year-old lefty took a cream pie in the face from teammate Angel Pagan during a post-game interview.
Chris Carter hit a leadoff double in the second off Jon Garland (6-4) and scored on Jeff Francoeur’s bloop single.
With runners on first and second, rookie Ruben Tejada hit a one-hopper at Headley. He stepped on third and threw to second baseman Lance Zawadzki, whose relay beat Tejada by at least a step.
It was the eighth triple play in Padres history and first since May 19, 1997, when pitcher Andy Ashby, shortstop Chris Gomez and first baseman Archi Cianfrocco did it against Cincinnati’s Ed Taubensee.
The Mets hit into their 10th triple play. Francoeur lined into an unassisted one to end a game against Philadelphia last Aug. 23.
Niese drew a leadoff walk in the third and went to third base when catcher Yorvit Torrealba threw wildly past first for an error on Reyes’ bunt single. David Wright had a run-scoring groundout and Ike Davis followed with a two-out RBI single.
The Mets took two of three from surprising San Diego for their eighth win in the past nine series at home. New York is 24-10 at Citi Field.
The nightcap was a makeup of Wednesday night’s rainout.
The lack of run support in the opener was nothing new for Santana (4-3), who pitched 15 shutout innings over his previous two starts without getting a decision. This time, he squandered a two-run lead and took the loss.
“There’s not much I can do,” Santana said. “I just have to pitch my game. I know that sooner or later the offence is going to pick up.”
The 22-year-old Latos (6-4) allowed only two hits in six innings and struck out eight. The right-hander set down his last 13 batters, improving to 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA and 47 strikeouts in his last seven starts.
“He’s got great stuff. He’s got just as good stuff as anybody in the league,” Gonzalez said. “When you execute your pitches with that kind of stuff, you’re going to have success.”
Then, the Padres turned to their dominant bullpen. Luke Gregerson fanned all three batters in the seventh, Mike Adams worked a perfect eighth and ex-Met Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 20 chances.
“We have a great TEAM,” Bell said. “You put us individually, we might not be the best guys out there. But you put us together, and we’re solid.”
NOTES: Santana’s scoreless streak ended at 18 2-3 innings in the opener. ... Mets bullpen coach Randy Niemann left the club to attend his mother’s funeral in California. Rick Waits, the team’s minor league pitching co-ordinator, will fill in through Saturday.