Collin McHugh: Rookie dazzles in debut; Mets still fall to Rockies

NEW YORK — Collin McHugh pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings for the Mets in his major league debut, but the Colorado Rockies completed their second straight four-game sweep of New York with a 1-0 victory Thursday as Jordany Valdespin misplayed Tyler Colvin’s leadoff drive in the eighth into a game-changing triple.

Colorado tied a season high with its fifth straight win and completed its second four-game sweep in two years at Citi Field.

McHugh, a 25-year-old right-hander, pitched masterfully with nine strikeouts and one walk. But after he left, the Rockies broke through quickly off Bobby Parnell (2-3).

Colvin hit his second pitch to straightaway center, where the rookie Valdespin took two steps in, then realized he had misjudged the drive. He backpedaled a half-dozen steps and tried for a backhand grab, but the ball sailed over his glove.

Chris Nelson fouled off a pair of 0-2 pitches, then singled to center past the drawn-in infield.

Rex Brothers (8-2) pitched two innings for the win, and Will Harris allowed a two-out double to Ruben Tejada in the eighth before striking out Josh Thole on three pitches.

Matt Belisle, Colorado’s fifth pitcher, got his first save since June 22, 2010, against Boston following some ninth-inning drama.

Pinch-hitter Justin Turner singled leading off and was sacrificed to second by Valdespin. Daniel Murphy flied to center and David Wright flied to right.

The punchless Mets went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and were held to two runs or fewer for the sixth straight game, the first time that’s happened since a streak of seven in a row from Sept. 17-21, 1982, according to STATS LLC. The Mets dropped to 11-28 since the All-Star break, which includes a 2-14 mark at Citi Field, and are 11 games under .500 for the first time since they finished 70-92 in 2009.

Taking the rotation slot of injured ace Johan Santana, McHugh threw 63 of 100 pitches for strikes. After Charlie Blackmon’s opposite-field double to left leading off the game, McHugh retired 20 of 22 batters around D.J. LeMahieu’s double starting the third and Carlos Gonzalez’s two-out walk in the fourth.

Last weekend, McHugh pitched seven scoreless innings for Triple-A Buffalo against Pawtucket at Boston’s Fenway Park.McHugh describes himself on his Twitter account as a “freelance meteorologist & professional baseball player.”

McHugh became the sixth Mets starter to pitch shutout ball in his debut, according to STATS LLC, joining Dick Rusteck (1966), Tim Leary (1981), Masato Yoshii (1998), Tyler Yates (2004) and Matt Harvey (July 26 at Arizona). Only Rusteck pitched longer, throwing a four-hitter against Cincinnati.

Blackmon, like McHugh a product from an Atlanta-area high school, was sacrificed to third following his double. McHughstranded him there, throwing a called third strike past Jordan Pacheco and fanning Gonzalez.

Colorado switched in June to a four-man rotation, instituting a limit of 75 pitches per start. Even though the Rockies are back to five starters for now, Tyler Chatwood was pulled after 65 pitches. He allowed three hits in three scoreless innings, then was replaced by Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino, a 2003 graduate of Brooklyn’s Berkeley Carroll School, allowed one hit over two innings.

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