Manager Terry Collins admitted to concern about how the Mets' young players would react to a star-laden opponent and a mammoth stage.
Their response was to take the Subway Series opener, 6-4, Friday night at Citi Field. It was only the Mets' fourth regular season win in 10 interborough games against the Yankees at Citi.
"I think they did a great job," Collins said. "Our guys are major league players now. They're young but they're major league players."
And they authored a major league first inning off of Andy Pettitte (3-3), roughing the lefty up for five runs on five hits.
Justin Turner opened the scoring with a two-out, two-RBI single to center. That was promptly followed by Ike Davis' three-run homer that bounced out of Nick Swisher's glove when the Yankees' right-fielder collided with the wall.
The home run was the eighth of the season for Davis.
"It's big," Collins said of the five spot. "It's a lot easier to play this game when you have the lead."
Davis's homer was his only hit in four at-bats, but he has 13 hits -- including five extra-base hits -- in his last 37 plate appearances. He has 13 RBI in that span as well.
"I'm working. It's a slow process," said Davis, who had been mired in a season-long slump. "The last couple weeks have been a little bit better.
"Just seeing the ball. Pick up the ball first before I decide to swing."
The early lead provided Jon Niese with a margin of error to work with. And the lefty pitched effectively as he improved to 5-3 on the season. He struck out five and scattered eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
"Just tried to stay focused," Niese said. "Just [tried] to execute pitches."
Niese made two mistakes against the home run-or-bust Yankees, allowing solo shots to Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
Niese left a thigh-high fastball over the middle of the plate that Rodriguez deposited into the home run apple in dead center to cut the Mets' lead to 5-1. Jones led off the seventh-inning by slugging a 2-0 pitch over the left-field wall.
"It was a cutter," Niese said of the pitch to Rodriguez.
David Wright's RBI double in the bottom of the seventh increased the advantage to 6-2, which provided the Mets enough of a cushion to absorb Robinson Cano's monstrous two-run shot off of Miguel Batista in the eighth. Cano's homer was his 15th of the season.
The Yankees would get no closer as Frank Francisco beat the top of the A.L. East leaders' lineup in a personal game of chicken.
After inducing Russell Martin to fly out to Andres Torres to start the ninth, Francisco walked Raul Ibanez and gave up a single to Derek Jeter.
The Mets closer responded by striking out Curtis Granderson and forcing Mark Teixeira to pop out to Omar Quintanilla to end the game.
"He was all pumped up about what had happened," Collins said of Francisco, who told the New York Post Thursday that he viewed the Yankees as "chickens."
"He said what he said. Frankie said, early in the year when he was having his struggles, he came here to get the job done," Collins said. "He pitched great tonight."
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.