<
>

Pelfrey puts it together, trumps ace

NEW YORK -- Mike Pelfrey, circa May 2010, showed up at Citi Field on Tuesday night.

The fidgety, tentative and ineffective Pelfrey of the past six weeks was nowhere to be found against the Colorado Rockies. In his place stood the confident, quick-working ace New York Mets fans grew to love in the first half of the season.

"It looked like a lot of what was going on back in April, May and June," Jeff Francoeur said after Pelfrey threw seven shutout innings against the Rockies, outdueling ace Ubaldo Jimenez in a 1-0 Mets win.

It was Pelfrey's first victory in eight starts.

"The wins are definitely welcome," Pelfrey said after striking out four and walking just one while throwing a career-high 122 pitches against Colorado. "After the last seven starts, I thought tonight was a big step in the right direction. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it again and again."

Pelfrey (11-6, 3.95 ERA) went pitch for pitch for seven innings against Jimenez (17-3, 2.55 ERA) and didn't flinch. Thanks to a Jose Reyes sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh, Pelfrey won for the first time since June 25. In between that night's victory over the Tigers and Tuesday night's win over Colorado, the 6-foot-7 right-hander endured a seven-start stretch in which he went 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA.

"I think the tempo was better," Pelfrey said of Tuesday's game. "I was quick on the mound."

Mets catcher Josh Thole, who hit a double off Jimenez in the seventh inning to set up Reyes' sacrifice fly, said Pelfrey came out in the first inning pumping fastball after fastball to Rockies hitters, setting the tone for the rest of the night.

Pelfrey struck out Rockies leadoff man Dexter Fowler on a 93 mph fastball, got Todd Helton to fly out to center and struck out the dangerous Carlos Gonzalez with another 93 mph heater.

It was the first time in five starts that Pelfrey got out of the first without allowing a run. Prior to Tuesday night, he had allowed 16 first-inning runs in his past 11 starts.

"He really attacked the strike zone tonight from the first pitch, and I think that's important," Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. "He got some ground balls when he had to get out of the inning and pitched extremely well."

The Mets climbed back to .500 and Pelfrey looked sharp, but any realist recognizes we've seen this movie before with this team. After opening the second half of the season with a 2-9 West Coast trip, the Mets came home and beat Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in the first game of a six-game homestand. They then proceeded to lose three of their next five -- including two of three to the lowly Diamondbacks -- before a crucial six-game road trip against division rivals Atlanta and Philadelphia.

The Mets went 2-4 on that trip and now are 8½ games behind the Braves in the National League East and 7½ behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL wild-card race.

So the season seems to be lost for the Mets, but at least they can chalk up a moral victory if Pelfrey finds his early-season form over the final 50 games.

"It was awesome," Francoeur said of what he saw from Pelfrey on Tuesday. "We needed that and we need him to keep doing that."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »