- Associated Press - Saturday, August 22, 2015

DENVER (AP) - Rookie Jon Gray struggled to put his pitches where he wanted, and he paid the price with the roughest outing of his young career.

The Colorado Rockies’ prized power pitcher, the third overall pick in the 2013 draft, gave up a career-high seven runs in 1 2-3 innings in a 14-9 loss to the New York Mets on Friday night.

Among the eight hits he allowed was a grand slam by Yoenis Cespedes, the first of three homers on the night by the Mets’ slugger who finished with a career-high seven RBIs.

“I wasn’t too precise with the pitch and he took advantage of it,” Gray said. “He was just on fire tonight.”

Gray, who was making just his fourth career start, said he lacked the control that he had in the past couple of outings, including a no-decision earlier this month in New York in which he pitched six innings and limited the Mets to one run.

“I knew they’d have a better idea coming in and seeing me a second time in so short of time. But it just came down to execution and it wasn’t there,” Gray said. “There was no command of the fastball at all, and it’s a little tough to get outs when that’s what you pitch off of. It was just bad.”

Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto also had home runs in the seventh inning in the Mets’ first five-homer game since Sept. 5, 2014, against Cincinnati.

The Mets have won nine in a row against the Rockies going back to May 4, 2014.

Cespedes led off the eighth with a chance to tie the major league record for most home runs in a game. He singled off reliever Tommy Kahnle for his fifth hit of the game, a career best.

He came up again with two outs in the ninth to face Rafael Betancourt and hit a drive to right-center field that Carlos Gonzalez had to chase down near the warning track, making a running catch.

In all, there were eight home runs in the game. Colorado’s Gonzalez, Ben Paulsen and Nolan Arenado also homered on a night when the ball was flying out of Coors Field.

Arenado’s three-run homer off Bartolo Colon in the fourth was his 30th of the season. Nick Hundley finished a homer shy of the cycle.

“We scored nine runs,” Arenado said. “We did a good job today. It just didn’t work out.”

“I don’t really think about it. We still have, what 40 games left. I think I’ll cherish it more when the season is over,” he said of his milestone homer.

“But, it’s great to hit 30. I’m fortunate, fortunate to be healthy and fortunate to put up numbers and have guys on base for me to give me a chance to drive them in.”

Cespedes, acquired by New York from Detroit in a trade deadline deal July 31, began his power display with a slam off Gray in the Mets’ six-run second inning, helping New York take a 7-1 lead.

He led off the fourth with his second homer, this one off reliever Christian Bergman and his third, a two-run shot off Christian Friedrich, snapped an 8-8 tie in the sixth.

“Tough to keep him down for long,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “He’s got big-time power. We saw it on display tonight.”

Like Gray, Colon had a tough night. He was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the second when he squared to bunt. He was checked by team trainers and remained in the game but went just 3 2-3 innings, allowing seven runs and nine hits, including all three of Colorado’s home runs.

Sean Gilmartin (2-1) picked up the win with 2 1-3 innings of solid relief. Friedrich (0-4), who gave up the tiebreaking shot to Cespedes, took the loss.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE

“It was one of those nights where the ball was flying pretty good, but there’s something to be learned every night, especially for a young pitcher, whether it’s good or bad. There’s always lessons to be learned.” - Rockies manager Walt Weiss on what Gray can take from his rough outing.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis (right shoulder inflammation) pitched five scoreless innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque and the team will decide in the coming days whether to give him one more rehab start or bring him back up to rejoin the Rockies, Weiss said. “I think at this point it’s just a matter of if he’s built up enough to go out in a major league game and give us length,” Weiss said.

UP NEXT

Mets: LHP Jonathon Niese (7-9) is slated to start the second of a three-game set against the Rockies.

Rockies: LHP Chris Rusin (4-5) takes the mound for the Rockies after pitching his first career shutout in his previous start.


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