DENVER (AP) -- With the Willie Randolph drama behind them, the New York Mets can finally concentrate on baseball -- at least for a little bit.
The Mets (36-36) took a step forward with a 7-2 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night, climbing back to .500 and giving Jerry Manuel his first winning streak since taking over for the fired Randolph."Hopefully, since it's behind us," starting pitcher John Maine said, "the questions will stop about it."Manuel is now 2-1 at the helm of the Mets and has quickly earned his players' respect."He's got a great baseball mind," David Wright said. "He's got a plan for everything. He's been around the game for a long time and he knows what he's talking about."Carlos Delgado hit a two-run homer as part of a five-run second and Trot Nixon hit his first homer in a Mets uniform, a solo shot in the third, to pace the offense.It was Nixon's first homer since July 7 of last season as a member of the Cleveland Indians. He spent the first part of this season with Triple-A Tucson before the Mets acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 13.Nixon also made a sliding catch in the fourth on Willy Taveras' two-out sinking liner, taking away two runs."I've been trying to do as much as I can at the Triple-A level to get some team to give me an opportunity to come back to this level," said Nixon, who hit .309 at Tucson. "I've got this opportunity and I want to make the most of it."Maine (7-5) shook off a shaky first -- giving up a two-run homer to Jeff Baker -- and a bothersome blister on his right middle finger to stop a two-game slide. He went 6 2-3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits."To give those runs up in the first inning and kind of settle down, and come back and not do anything after that, that was a big lift," Maine said, "a good confidence boost."Maine couldn't throw his slider for the last three innings because of the blister. No matter, his changeup was his most effective pitch of the night.After giving up Baker's two-run homer, he blanked the Rockies, retiring eight straight at one point."He threw the ball great," Wright said. "John Maine, when he pitches with a lead, he goes out there and challenges hitters. He's a competitor on the mound. I love that bulldog mentality."Delgado's second-inning homer was the 442nd of his career, tying him with Dave Kingman for 34th on the career list.Jose Reyes, Endy Chavez and David Wright all had two-out RBI singles in the second as the Mets solved Aaron Cook's sinker. The team had a season-high seven hits in the inning.Carlos Beltran finished with three singles and Reyes drove in two runs, including a crazy RBI in the eighth when his bases-loaded blooper dropped in front of Brad Hawpe in right, only to have Brian Schneider thrown out at third by Hawpe after a late break. Reyes was credited with a fielder's choice instead of a single.Cook (10-4) had won his last three starts, but was pounded by the Mets all evening, tying a career high by allowing 12 hits in seven innings. He surrendered six runs, the second-most he's given up this season."It was a case of him mechanically coming off pitches, coming out of his windup a little too quick," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "Instead of getting sink, he got the ball to run."Baker continued his home run barrage, hitting his fourth in as many games, only the 13th time in team history that's been accomplished. Matt Holliday was the last Rockies player to homer in four straight games when he did it last September."He's really swinging the bat well," Hurdle said.Troy Tulowitzki was back at shortstop for Colorado after a 46-game absence. The 23-year-old had been out since April 29 when he tore his left quadriceps muscle while making an off-balanced throw.Although he hit the ball hard twice, Tulowitzki wound up 0-for-4. Wright took a hit away from him with a diving catch down the line and Chavez made a leaping grab as he retreated back toward the wall."It was good to get back," Tulowitzki said. "It was very difficult to watch the team play the last few months."
Manuel said OF Ryan Church (post-concussion syndrome) is jogging and will join the team in batting practice when they return to Shea Stadium on Monday. ... Manuel said he's keeping in touch with Randolph. "I spoke with him yesterday," Manuel said. "He was in the office cleaning up. I told him to give me some jelly beans." ... Taveras stole two bases, giving him an NL-leading 34 stolen bases.