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COL@NYM: Nelson gives Rockies a lead with RBI single

NEW YORK -- Nothing like a dose of deja vu on a Thursday afternoon.

The Rockies overcame a brilliant starting pitching performance for the second consecutive day against the Mets, scoring the only run of the game in the eighth inning to complete a four-game sweep with a 1-0 win.

Starting in place of Johan Santana -- whom the Mets shut down for the remainder of the season -- Collin McHugh was lights out in his Major League debut. The right-hander dominated the Rockies for seven innings, scattering just two hits while striking out nine.

But as was the case Wednesday -- when Colorado overcame a one-run, six-inning effort by Matt Harvey by tagging New York's bullpen for four runs over the final three innings -- it ultimately went for naught.

Tyler Colvin led off the eighth with a triple to center off Bobby Parnell -- a ball that sailed over the head of Mets center fielder Jordany Valdespin after he mistakenly broke in on it -- and Chris Nelson broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single in the next at-bat.

Colorado's bullpen kept the Mets at bay to seal the deal, and the Rockies cruised out of New York with their fifth consecutive win and ninth in their last 11 games.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of this group, I've said that many times," manager Jim Tracy said. "It doesn't take a four-game sweep to say it, I've said it a lot. The effort and the energy that they have played with from Day 1, I have absolutely zero qualms as far as the effort they put in day in and day out."

Much of the credit for Colorado's recent run belongs to the pitching staff. On a day when Tracy expressed his demand for "quality Major League pitching," his hurlers delivered a five-member relay for the shutout.

Tyler Chatwood and Adam Ottavino combined for five scoreless innings, scattering just four combined hits. Rex Brothers was equally impressive in two innings of relief, allowing just one hit while striking out two before Will Harris and Matt Belisle took over in the eighth and ninth innings.

"We're throwing the ball really well right now as a staff, and as a team we're playing really good baseball in general," Chatwood said. "It's starting to all come together."

As a whole, Tracy raved about the performance of his staff -- the Rockies held the Mets to just five combined runs over the teams' four-game set. But as has been the case since mid-June, the skipper held his starter to the standard 75-pitch limit, and Chatwood got there in a hurry.

"He threw 65 pitches, but 65 pitches in three innings. How efficient is that?" Tracy said. "How many strikes are being thrown? How many ball-three counts do you have? How much further do you go along before you're going to bring a member of your bullpen in inheriting either trouble, or there's already been runs scored and there's trouble standing out there on the bases."

Although Chatwood may not have been efficient, he held the Mets scoreless to keep his team in the game, even if only for three innings. For the series, Colorado's starters -- Alex White, Jhoulys Chacin, Jeff Francis and Chatwood -- combined to surrender just three runs over 18 innings.

"That's your job as a starter. You go out there for as long as you can and keep your team in the game," Chatwood said. "Today it just happened to be shorter than normal, but I felt like I kept us in the game for as long as I was able to."

And the pitching staff has paved the way for the Rox offense, which exhibited heightened aggression throughout the four-game sweep -- highlighted by a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by DJ LeMahieu in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 5-2 win.

"It has afforded us an opportunity to use other facets of our offensive game that we worked on at Spring Training, and when the opportunities have been there we have used exactly what we did in Spring Training," Tracy said.

"For our pitching staff to do what they've been doing, it brings that portion of our offensive game back. And with the players that we have here and their growth, it gives us an opportunity to utilize that stuff."

Colorado, now 50-73, put on a clinic of how to exploit the Mets' weaknesses, preying on New York's bullpen and silencing an offense in the midst of a season-worst slump. In all, New York finished 3-for-26 with runners in scoring position and left 34 on base.

"They just played better than us," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "When you're in a slump, it doesn't matter what the record of the other team is."

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