Updated 8/11/10 7:03 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP/WFAN) — Mike Pelfrey stood tall on the mound, aggressively challenging the Colorado Rockies with fastballs. From the start, he looked like a pitcher determined to put an emphatic end to a slide.
And, boy, did he.
Pelfrey returned to early season form, outpitching All-Star Ubaldo Jimenez for seven innings, and Jose Reyes hit a sacrifice fly to help the New York Mets kick off a crucial homestand with a 1-0 win over the Rockies on Monday night.
“I thought the tempo was better, I was quick on the mound,” Pelfrey said. “Coming to the game I knew I had to be at the top of my game, and I knew that guy’s been good over there.”
The Mets moved back to .500 (56-56) with a much-needed win after returning from a 2-4 road trip against division rivals that helped drop them 8 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East. They were relying on Pelfrey to bounce back from a horrible seven-start winless stretch while facing the Rockies’ 17-game winner.
“It looked like he was attacking,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “I think Mike’s on his way back.”
Pelfrey (11-6) had been so bad since late June that at one point Manuel considered skipping his turn in the rotation. But Pelfrey worked on his arm speed between starts to correct a discrepancy between his fastball and off-speed pitches and he looked as good as he did in going 10-2 to open the season.
On Tuesday, he went seven innings for the first time since June 19, and gave up four hits. He struck out four and walked one while throwing a career-high 122 pitches.
“It looked a lot like of what was going on in April, May and June,” Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. “I thought it was awesome and it was a big lift for us.”
Fernando Martinez made a diving catch in left field to help Hisanori Takahashi pitch a 1-2-3 eighth. Francisco Rodriguez was perfect in the ninth for his 25th save in 30 chances, completing the Mets’ 16th shutout, most in the majors. It was New York’s second 1-0 victory in four days and third of the season.
The Rockies, who had only one runner reach third base, have won only twice in their last 11 road games.
“You don’t score you can’t win,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “I felt like we had some pitches to hit. We hit them back to the screen.”
After failing to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation in the sixth in which Pelfrey had a single, the Mets broke through against Jimenez in the seventh. Chris Carter walked leading off and Josh Thole doubled off the wall in right field before Ruben Tejada struck out. Carlos Beltran, out of the starting lineup for a scheduled day off, pinch-hit for Pelfrey and was intentionally walked.
Reyes then hit a long fly ball to right field that scored Francoeur, who was pinch-running.
“I think I lost command of the fastball,” Jimenez said. “I couldn’t throw a strike to the first batter. The second guy, I thought he was going to bunt and I threw it right down the middle.”
Reyes came through after having pregame chats with coach Chip Hale and Manuel about his pre-pitch preparation on defense after he made three errors on his road trip.
Jimenez (17-3) was the more dominant pitcher early. His pitches routinely reached the high 90s (mph) and popped loudly into catcher Miguel Olivo’s glove as an unenthusiastic crowd watched him not allow a hit until Martinez reached on an infield single leading off the fourth.
“I felt really good,” Jimenez said. “I saved all my energy in the early innings. When I got into the fifth, sixth, seventh I started throwing harder.”
The right-hander gave up a run and four hits for the third straight start. He struck out eight and walked four — two intentionally.
NOTES: Manuel said he talked with Beltran, who is batting .195 since returning from the DL after the All-Star break. “Basically, seeing where he was mentally, emotionally. Letting him know I was going to keep him fresh as possible,” Manuel said after the game. … Rockies closer Huston Street missed the game to be with his wife, who gave birth to their first child, Ripken Ray, on Monday night in Denver. … Mets 3B David Wright went 0 for 3 with an intentional walk and has two hits in his last 29 at-bats.
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