NEW YORK -- Collin McHugh couldn't get enough help from his offense, and the New York Mets bullpen didn't get the assistance it needed from its defense.
So, for the second straight game, a Mets rookie starter dominated the Colorado Rockies, only to have the Rockies push the winning run across against the bullpen.
This time, McHugh made an impressive first impression in his major-league debut, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out nine for the Mets in their 1-0 loss Thursday.
But Colorado's Tyler Colvin hit a drive to center on the second pitch he saw in the eighth, and center fielder Jordany Valdespin misplayed it, breaking in before running back to see the ball go over his head. Chris Nelson knocked him in with a single, his second big hit in as many days.
It added up to Colorado's fifth straight win and the Mets' fifth consecutive loss. It also was the Rockies' eighth win in a row at Citi Field and capped a four-game sweep there.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of this group," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "... What we just did today is not easy to do. It's not easy to do. Sweep a four-game series on the road."
The victory followed a Wednesday win in which the Rockies' Wilin Rosario homered on the second pitch he saw in the seventh after Mets rookie Matt Harvey had thrown six innings of one-run ball.
Colorado completed the sweep thanks to another strong performance in its pitcher-by-committee style. Starter Tyler Chatwood pitched three shutout innings while Adam Ottavino followed with two scoreless innings.
Rex Brothers (8-2) added two more shutout innings and Will Harris escaped the eighth after giving up a two-out double to Ruben Tejada. Harris struck out Josh Thole to end the inning.
Justin Turner hit a pinch hit single off Matt Belisle to lead off the Mets' ninth, and Valdespin bunted him to second. But Belisle got Daniel Murphy on a fly to left for the second out and got David Wright on a fly to right to earn his first save of the season.
For the Mets, the only consolation in a miserable slide in which they've lost 13 of 17, has been watching pitchers like Harvey and McHugh open some eyes.
Filling in after Johan Santana was placed on the disabled list, McHugh cruised through the first seven innings of his major-league career, pitching two-hit shutout ball. He walked just one batter.
After giving up a double to Charlie Blackmon, the first hitter he faced, McHugh retired the next three batters, striking out two straight to end the inning. He did not allow more than one base runner in any inning, and retired the side in order five times, with help from a caught stealing in the third.
The 25-year-old should raise some eyebrows with his performance after waiting four years to make it to the big leagues and getting drafted in the 18th round in 2008.
"It's been a couple years since I've seen him pitch ... and the command of his stuff is so much better," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "His slider is much improved, the breaking ball is really good and the fastball command, both sides of the plate. I was really impressed."
McHugh said his nerves eased as he began throwing, shortly after U.S. Olympic gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"The anticipation is the hardest part, for sure," McHugh said. "But once the clock stops ticking and you realize, 'Hey, I've done this a thousand times before,' you get a ball in your hand and start playing catch, and it felt great. I felt comfortable out there."
But the offense couldn't get McHugh a lead, and the Rockies pushed across the one run against Bobby Parnell (2-3), with help from Valdespin's misplay.
"In fairness to their bullpen, we took advantage of a misplayed ball in center field," Tracy said. "That's how we ended up with a leadoff triple and a run-scoring single by Nelson. That's not Bobby Parnell. That's a misplayed ball that led to a run."
Collins juggled his struggling lineup, moving Valdespin to the leadoff spot, but it didn't help.
Valdespin walked in his first at-bat and stole second, but Chatwood retired the next three batters. He singled to lead off the third, but was caught stealing. The Mets later put two runners on, with a single by Wright and walk by Ike Davis, but Chatwood got Scott Hairston to fly out to center.
Chatwood lasted three innings as part of the Rockies' method of limiting their starters to 75 pitches. Colorado initially made the move while using a four-man rotation, but Tracy said he will continue the limit now that the Rockies are back to a five-man set. Tracy said if a starter is pitching well and is economical with his pitches, he could allow him to go deeper.
Chatwood gave up three hits and walked three while throwing 65 pitches.
NOTES: Right-handed prospect Jenrry Mejia will be a September call-up and should get a "start or two," Collins said in his morning press briefing. ... Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler remained on crutches Thursday morning after spraining his right ankle Wednesday night. He's listed as day to day but said after Wednesday's game he expected to be out a few days. ... Rockies shortstop Josh Rutledge (tight left quad) was available only for pinch hit duty Thursday and was day to day for more than that. He singled in the eighth. ... Douglas, from Virginia Beach, said before the game that she had not yet met fellow Virginia native David Wright, but later did, taking photos with the Mets' third baseman. Douglas, offering the bright smile she's become known for, said she was nervous about throwing the first pitch after bouncing one in a minor-league game, but threw the pitch on a fly.
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