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PHI@NYM: Niese overpowers Phillies with arm and bat

The end of the season is coming quick for the Marlins and Mets, but there's still work to be done.

Both teams are working through a taxing September in a difficult season, and they'll use the rest of the schedule to evaluate players for next year. Brad Hand will get the ball for Miami in Friday's series opener, and the Mets will counter with veteran southpaw Jon Niese.

Hand, who spent most of this season with Triple-A New Orleans, will make his first big league start of the season. The 2008 second-round Draft pick pitched to a 3-5 record with a 3.42 ERA in 15 starts for New Orleans, and he's made three scoreless relief appearances for the Marlins this season.

"I'm just up here doing whatever they want me to do," said Hand, a 23-year-old left-hander.

The Marlins have gone 10-5 against the Mets this season, and this four-game series -- they play a doubleheader Saturday -- will close out the season docket between the division rivals. Miami enters the series with losses in six of its last eight games, while New York limps into the opener with a 2-9 record in the last 11.

Niese has been particularly good at home this season, logging a 2.54 ERA at Citi Field as opposed to a 5.66 mark on the road. Niese is 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA since returning from a shoulder injury on Aug. 11, and he's posted a 2-5 record with a 4.16 ERA in 12 career starts against the Marlins.

The Mets, despite their recent slide, are 23-21 since the All-Star break. But they have scored three or more runs just twice in their last 12 home games and are hitting .201 (76-for-379) in that span.

Marlins: Long ball lacking in young lineup
The Marlins (86) are one of two big league teams -- the Giants (89) are the other -- to have fewer than 100 home runs this season, and they're the only team that has scored fewer than 500 runs. Miami has scored 472 runs so far, while no other National League team has scored fewer than 540.

Only two players, Giancarlo Stanton (20) and Justin Ruggiano (16), have hit more than 10 home runs for Miami, and Stanton has played in just 98 games. The 23-year-old slugger is the ninth quickest player in baseball history to reach 100 career homers (400 games), which he did earlier this season.

Mets:
Eric Young Jr., has given the Mets a speed threat since arriving in a mid-season trade with the Rockies. Young has 28 steals with the Mets and 21 since the All-Star break, which is the most of any big league player. Young has already set personal bests with 37 steals between the two teams in 131 games played.

Young has batted just .237 (46-for-194) in 50 games since the All-Star break, but he's found a way to make his few chances on base count. Overall, the 28-year-old has batted .262 (79-for-301) with 33 walks in 74 games with the Mets, and he's hit .309 (29-for-93) out of the leadoff slot.

Worth noting
• The Mets lead the all-time series against the Marlins, 171-163, including an 88-78 mark in New York. It's been a little more interesting of late, though, and the Mets hold a narrow 21-20 edge at Citi Field.

• Juan Pierre tied Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio for 175th place all time with 2,214 career hits with a pinch-hit single Thursday.

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