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BASEBALL

Marlins make a stop at Citi Field

Lefty Brad Hand makes his first start of the season for the Miami Marlins on Friday when they visit the New York Mets to open a three-game series at Citi Field.

The 23-year-old Minnesota native was a second-round draft pick of the Marlins in 2008 and first reached the majors in 2011, when he went 1-8 in 12 starts with a 4.20 earned run average.

He made just one start in 2012 and was rocked for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings, then opened this year with a 1 2/3-inning relief appearance against the Mets on May 1 in a 7-6 Mets win.

Hand returned to the big leagues this month and has since pitched four scoreless, hitless innings while walking one batter and striking out three.

The trip to Citi Field will be his first road appearance of 2013.

New York goes with 26-year-old lefty Jonathon Niese, who makes a third effort at a first win since Aug. 27.

Niese improved to 6-6 with a complete game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in which he allowed three hits, walked a batter and struck out five in nine scoreless innings for a 5-0 win.

The complete game was his first of the season and third of his career - with the last two both coming in 2010.

In two starts since - a loss and a no-decision - Niese has allowed 19 hits and seven earned runs in 11 2/3 innings.

On Thursday in Miami, Freddie Freeman celebrated his 24th birthday by going 3- for-4 with a two-run homer and two runs scored to help Freddy Garcia get a win in his first start with Atlanta, as the Braves downed Miami, 6-1.

Donovan Solano drove in the lone run and Christian Yelich had two hits for Miami, which has lost five of six and completed a seven-game homestand with just a pair of wins.

In New York, Ryan Zimmerman stroked one of Washington's four solo home runs to back a strong start from Tanner Roark, as the Nationals completed a four-game sweep of the Mets with a 7-2 triumph.

Aaron Harang (0-1), making his Mets debut after signing with the club on Sept. 1, struck out 10 over six innings of work, but was done in by the long ball, with three of his four hits given up going for home runs.

Daniel Murphy and Anthony Recker each knocked in a run for the Mets.

The Marlins have won 10 of the first 15 meetings with the Mets this season, a year after New York won the season series, 12-6.