SAN FRANCISCO -- The fans came to AT&T Park to see Hunter Pence's San Francisco Giants debut, but instead Ruben Tejada and Jonathon Niese stole the show Wednesday.
Tejada's game-opening homer and Niese's seven strong innings helped the New York Mets take a 2-1 victory to ensure at least a split of the four-game series. The teams conclude the series Thursday afternoon.
Niese (8-5) allowed one run on three hits while striking out five, picking up his first win since July 3 against the Phillies.
"I thought my fastball command was there," Niese said. "Having the fastball command made the off-speed pitches better."
Tejada hit a Matt Cain fastball into the left field bleachers on the game's second pitch to give the Mets an early lead. The Mets shortstop finished 3-for-4 with a walk, raising his average to .319.
Mets manager Terry Collins said, "Before the game, I said, 'I need you to step up tonight,' and (Tejada) said, 'I'm going to try,' and I gave him the old, 'Well, I could get a truck driver to try.'
"(Tejada) just came into my office and asked me, 'Could I drive a truck?' I said, 'You could drive my truck any day.'"
Cain (10-4) gave up two runs on seven hits in five innings, leaving for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth.
"I went out there and just started battling myself the whole time and couldn't find a way to throw early strikes," Cain said. "It was a constant struggle."
Buster Posey's sixth-inning homer accounted for the Giants' only run.
The Mets squandered opportunities to break the game open in both the eighth and ninth innings.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth, Josh Thole hit a grounder in front of the plate. Posey, the Giants catcher, had his throw hit Thole in the back and bounce away, but Thole was called for interference for running inside the first base line, resulting in a double play.
After the third walk of the inning loaded the bases for a second time, Giants second baseman Ryan Theriot made a diving stop to rob Tejada of a base hit, ending the threat.
The Mets loaded the bases once more with one out in the ninth. Jason Bay lined out on a comebacker to Brad Penny, who threw to first base to catch Daniel Murphy for another double play -- the fourth double play of the night recorded by San Francisco.
The Giants couldn't take advantage at the end, as Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect ninth to record his fourth save in nine opportunities.
Cain was on the ropes from the very beginning, and he was once again saved by a defensive gem by Gregor Blanco.
Back on June 13, Blanco made a diving catch in right-center to preserve Cain's perfect game against the Astros. On Wednesday, the stakes weren't nearly as high, but he again went full extension on a run-saving grab, this time on a sinking liner to left-center from Jordany Valdespin with Tejada on second base in the fourth.
"Blanco picked me up again," Cain said. "We just weren't able to capitalize from it."
In the second inning, Niese hit a single past third baseman Marco Scutaro on a perfectly executed "butcher boy" play. The Mets scored their second run two batters later when Valdespin grounded into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded.
NOTES: Tejada's homer was the first of his career leading off a game. The shortstop broke his streak of 629 at-bats without a home run. ... Pence received a standing ovation from the fans at AT&T Park before his first at-bat, on which he fouled out to first baseman Ike Davis with runners at first and second. He finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. "The fans, they're great out here. It was loud, it was rowdy," Pence said. "Unfortunately, I didn't do much that they brought me over here for, but this is game one." ... Pence's average with runners in scoring position was .238 coming into the game. The Giants came into the game hitting .231 with RISP, and they went 0-for-3 in those situations Wednesday. ... In his last start, Niese allowed eight runs (six earned) over six innings in a loss to Arizona ... Cain's outing matched his shortest start of the season, when he went five innings and allowed three earned runs to the Los Angeles Angels on June 18. ... The attendance was 42,188, the 138th consecutive sellout at AT&T Park.
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