NEW YORK (AP) - When he saw Jonathon Niese hop toward home plate and then drop down in the dirt, Mets manager Terry Collins thought he might need another pitcher.
Not just for this game, but in the rotation for a while.
``When it happened, your first worry is that something serious is there and how are we going to fill it?' Collins said.
Struck in the lower right leg by Mark Ellis' sharp grounder in the third inning, Niese sent shivers through the Mets and their fans when he limped off during Tuesday night's 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
X-rays were negative and Niese left with a bruise. The Mets said he was day to day.
``We'll see how it feels tomorrow. But I should be able to throw a bullpen and make my next start,' Niese said.
``I'm glad it's not as bad as what it could have been,' he added. ``Everything kind of locked up down there. I couldn't move my toes. It was kind of scary at first.'
That's how it looked to Collins, too.
``Certainly the fear was that he couldn't move his foot when we went out there. He said he didn't have any feeling in his foot, so that was a bad sign for us. But obviously he's fine. He's walking around. It's getting better as the night goes along, so he'll be OK,' he said.
Niese was hit between the ankle bone and the Achilles tendon.
``Initially it hurt pretty bad, but after icing it a few times it feels good,' he said.
Ellis got four hits and drove in four runs. He hit his 100th career homer in the fifth inning, then connected for a tiebreaking, three-run shot with two outs in the seventh.
Ellis had three RBIs on Sunday at Baltimore when the Dodgers stopped a six-game losing streak. He had not homered since Sept. 20 until tagging the Mets in the series opener.
Los Angeles won despite an uneven outing by ace Clayton Kershaw. With Dodgers great Sandy Koufax watching at Citi Field, Kershaw walked four and struck out five in five innings.
Hit hard in his previous start by San Diego, Kershaw limited the damage this time to two runs and three hits on a night with temperatures in the low 50s. The 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner remained unbeaten in seven starts against the Mets.
Ronald Belisario (1-2) pitched one inning for the win. Brandon Lyon (1-1) gave up Ellis' go-ahead homer.
Ellis nicked Niese with one out in the third. Niese hopped toward the plate looking for the ball as Ellis reached on an infield single.
The Mets' lefty sat down in the dirt along the first base line and grimaced as Collins and a trainer looked at him. Niese was helped to his feet after a minute or so and exited.
``You never want to see someone go out like that,' Ellis said.
Ellis' solo homer in the fifth made it 2-all and finished reliever Rob Carson.
Justin Sellers hit an RBI single in the second that put the Dodgers ahead. Niese escaped a bases-loaded jam when Kershaw grounded into a double play.
The Mets scored twice in the third after Kershaw retired the first two batters. Carson, who took over for Niese, walked in his first big league plate appearance and set up RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright.
``Pretty good for a guy who doesn't hit,' Collins said of Carson. ``I think the last time he hit was probably two years ago when he was starting. When you're facing Clayton Kershaw and you draw a base on balls, no matter who you are, it's a pretty good at-bat.'
A.J. Ellis hit a two-run double in the Dodgers' eighth.
NOTES: Mets RHP Matt Harvey (4-0, 0.93 ERA) starts Wednesday night vs. LHP Ted Lilly, who will make his season debut after shoulder surgery. ... The Mets have given up at least seven runs in each of their last eight losses. ... Mets SS Ruben Tejada and 2B Murphy each had nifty plays. ... RHP Shaun Marcum is scheduled for his Mets debut Saturday against Philadelphia. On the disabled list with a sore neck and biceps, he pitched five shutout innings in an extended spring training game Monday. Collins said Marcum felt fine the day after. ... Mets CF Juan Lagares made his big league debut during a double switch in the fifth inning. Promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas earlier in the day, he flied out to the warning track against Kershaw in his first at-bat. Lagares singled his next time up and the Mets retrieved the souvenir ball. ``When I got to the dugout all of my teammates said congratulations. That, for me, feels good,' he said. ... The Dodgers have won five straight at Citi Field.
The Associated Press News Service
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