Jon Niese usually doesn't wear frustration well. It shows on his face and in his mannerisms when he's on the mound.
On Saturday night against the Nationals, Niese had every right to be frustrated. Balls hit by the Nats were bouncing off bases, getting touched but not caught and finding holes despite valiant diving attempts by Mets infielders.
Still, Niese was able to keep his emotions in check as he held Washington to one run in seven innings despite allowing nine hits, all singles.
Unfortunately for Niese, Gio Gonzalez had less to be frustrated about in his seven innings. Gonzalez and three relievers combined on a six-hitter for a 1-0 win over the Mets before 39,730 at Citi Field.
Gonzalez (2-2) allowed six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. The Mets (16-9), who have lost four of five and six of nine, need a win Sunday to avoid losing their third consecutive series.
"There was a lot of ground-ball base hits, stuff that hit the hole," said Niese (2-2). "Kind of tough-luck stuff. But give them credit. They hit the ball hard, too."
The Nationals scored in the second on three singles. The first, by Ian Desmond, hit off second base and then Dilson Herrera's glove. Desmond was due for a break. The hit snapped an 0-for-29 slide.
Danny Espinosa followed with a line drive off the glove of a leaping Daniel Murphy in his second straight game at third base. After a sacrifice bunt by Gonzalez moved the runners along, Michael Taylor hit a grounder that ticked off the glove of a diving Murphy and trickled to shortstop for a single as Desmond scored.
"I told him tonight, 'I'll tell you, Jon, if you're going to keep giving up just ground balls up the middle, we'll take it,' " Terry Collins said. "I saw a lot of them. Pitched a good game. I mean, 1-0 . . . This is how it's going to be played , in my opinion. With their pitching staff, every night you're going to see almost a No. 1 starter. So you've got to pitch well yourself. And we did that tonight. We just couldn't get to Gio. We know he can be really, really good like he was tonight."
The Mets' best scoring chance was snuffed out when Juan Lagares was thrown out at the plate on a one-out double to left by Lucas Duda in the first inning. The relay went from Jayson Werth to Desmond to Wilson Ramos.
"Once in a while, you've got to make them make a play," Collins said. "Ball's sitting in the corner down there. You've got, certainly, a guy who can run. Ian made a great throw."
Duda crushed a ball to left-center in the third that died at the warning track. Remember, the fences weren't moved in there.
In the sixth, Herrera hit a high chopper with two outs that skipped under the glove of charging second baseman Espinosa and into short rightfield. Herrera, who was cited for his exuberance by general manager Sandy Alderson when he was called up for Friday night's game, continuing running to second.
Collins would later call that "an error of enthusiasm" because Desmond retrieved the ball and threw to Espinosa to nail Herrera and end the inning. It was that kind of night for the Mets.