NEW YORK - The New York Mets soared to an 11-2 win against the San Diego Padres for their season opener at Citi Field today.

Jonathon Niese stepped nicely into his new role as No. 1 starter for the Mets, and Collin Cowgill capped a successful New York debut with a grand slam.

Niese enjoyed a big afternoon with both his arm and the bat after being handed the opening day assignment in place of an injured Johan Santana. He breezed into the seventh inning against a Padres lineup missing slugger Chase Headley, who was out with a broken thumb, and catcher Yasmani Grandal, who is suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for testosterone.

Marlon Byrd had a pair of RBI singles and fellow Mets newcomer John Buck was in the middle of three rallies.

David Wright received a warm ovation when he was introduced as the fourth Mets captain. He stole two bases and made a diving play at third base in his first game since signing a $138 million, eight-year contract - the richest in team history.

The Mets have won 20 of their last 22 home openers.

Heroes of Superstorm Sandy were honored at the stadium before the start of the game.

AP wire services contributed to this report.