Get a big hit for the Mets, and keep on playing.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis was a beneficiary of that approach last night by manager Terry Collins, getting the start in center field against the Phillies a day after his pinch-hit single helped sink the Marlins.

Collins cited the fact Nieuwenhuis had one hit in three career at-bats against Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay as another factor.

Collin Cowgill, Jordany Valdespin and Nieuwenhuis all have started games in center field this season.

Nieuwenhuis’ single in the ninth inning against Steve Cishek on Sunday set the stage for Marlon Byrd’s two-run single to win it. In last night’s 7-2 win, he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout before Cowgill pinch hit for him in the sixth inning .

“I don’t want anybody to think we have this solid lineup, because we’ve got some guys where the past means something,” Collins said. “Kirk Niuewenhuis last year for 12 weeks played pretty stinking good.

“If we can get him back, get his swing back to where he was last year in the first half, we’ve got a good player, because this guy can really play center field. We’ll try to do it in the right situations and put him in some spots where the guy he’s facing he has a chance of doing some damage against him.”

* The Mets are wary of scouting reports they received on Aaron Harang, according to a club source, and likely won’t pursue the veteran right-hander. Harang was designated for assignment by the Rockies after arriving Saturday in a trade with the Dodgers.

Collins gave a lukewarm endorsement yesterday to lefty Aaron Laffey, who allowed three earned runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings against the Marlins starting in Shaun Marcum’s place. Marcum remains on the disabled list with neck inflammation.