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Niese returns for Mets against Mariners

(SportsNetwork.com) - Jon Niese makes his return to the New York Mets' rotation on Monday night for the opener of a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners.

The left-hander is set for his first start since July 4 as he landed on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation. He is 5-4 with a 2.96 earned run average on the season, having won back-to-back starts before a no-decision in his previous outing prior to going on the DL.

Niese, 27, has never faced Seattle and his return will push Daisuke Matsuzaka back to the bullpen.

The Mets have lost two in a row following an 8-1 stretch and were no-hit for 7 2/3 innings by San Diego's Odrisamer Despaigne before an eventual walk-off 2-1 loss on Sunday.

"When you vary your speeds from 65-to-93, that's tough to get a good pitch to hit," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Despaigne.

Seattle also took a tough loss on Sunday, falling 6-5 to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the rubber match of a three-game set. The Mariners led by a run going into the ninth before yielding a pair of runs.

With their sixth loss in nine games, the Mariners sit nine games back of first place in the AL West.

All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano was not in the lineup on Sunday because of a nagging hamstring issue, but could return to action tonight.

His presence in the lineup would be welcomed by struggling left-hander Roenis Elias, who tries to avoid a fourth straight losing start tonight.

Elias got off to a strong start this year, but has pitched to a 10.05 ERA over his personal skid. The 25-year-old lefty lasted just 3 1/3 innings versus Minnesota on July 9, charged with six earned runs on seven hits and three walks.

"It was a tough night for him ... just no command," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Elias.

Now 7-8 with a 4.54 ERA on the year, Elias faces the Mets for the first time looking to improve on his 2-5 mark and 5.14 ERA in 10 starts at home.

Seattle has won seven of nine versus New York dating back to 2003 and is hosting the Mets for the first time since a three-game sweep from June 17-19, 2005.

07/21 11:00:05 ET

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