Wheeler's start proves too rocky for Mets

Right-hander struggles in Mile High air; Granderson homers

Wheeler's start proves too rocky for Mets

DENVER -- Coors Field has a way of growing on opposing teams and their pitchers. In particular, it can grow a pitcher's ERA. On Friday night, a second consecutive starter was victimized by the Rockies' lineup and had his shortest outing and allowed his highest run total of the season as New York fell, 10-3, to the Rockies in the second game of a four-game set.

Zack Wheeler was the Mets' sacrificial starter Friday, giving up a career-high seven runs (six earned) in a career-low four innings pitched.

"I honestly didn't have a clue where the ball was going today," Wheeler said. "I went back and looked at some video and all my balls were running, two-seam was cutting. It was just one of those days that I got my ground balls, but they found holes."

The Rockies -- who are tied with Oakland for the most 10-run games of the season -- took advantage of Wheeler at every opportunity.

"He got behind in some counts," manager Terry Collins said. "I think he probably had to throw strikes with them, and he left some over the plate. It was just one of those nights where if the ball was over the plate, it was something they could handle."

The Mets struck first, getting their only lead of the series when Juan Lagares doubled to left to open the game, advanced to third on Daniel Murphy's single to left, then scored on a wild pitch from Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. The momentum was gunned down when Murphy was thrown out attempting to steal third, the first time he'd been caught stealing in his last 29 attempts dating back to June 9.

Colorado countered quickly, posting four runs on four hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first, picking up where it left off the night before. The first five Rockies hitters reached base safely, and the fifth, Wilin Rosario, benefited from a slow rolling ball down the third-base line, wobbling fair when Wheeler and David Wright were banking on it rolling foul.

"It was like slow motion for me," Wheeler said. "Me and David both were just letting it roll. It started to roll foul, then it started to roll fair. [All you could do is] get down on the ground and start blowing it."

It was typical of a night when the balls all seemed to roll the Rockies' way.

The Mets put traffic on the bases in all but one of De La Rosa's remaining five innings but weren't able to plate another run until the sixth, when the first four Mets to the plate all reached safely. Chris Young drew a walk to open the inning, then Curtis Granderson lined a shot over the right-field scoreboard for a two-run homer.

"It's always good, anyway you can get positive results with the bat and get some hits across the board," Granderson said. "And especially in that fashion -- to get one out of the ballpark is good," Granderson said. "But ultimately, you're trying to help the team win the game, and we weren't able to do that today."

Josh Satin drew another walk and advanced on a Travis d'Arnaud single to center, but De La Rosa induced a rally-killing groundout double play off the bat of Ruben Tejada.

"I think I lost a little bit of my command after the homer," De La Rosa said. "The only thing I could do was get a deep breath and try to get the guy to put the ball on the ground. That's what I did."

If only it were that easy. De La Rosa may have been able to correct himself with a deep breath, but even breathing was problematic for Wheeler in his first game pitching at mile-high Coors Field.

"There was nothing that affected me," Wheeler said about pitching at altitude, refusing to make excuses for his performance. "I had a hard time breathing, but it doesn't affect how I pitch."

Wheeler gave up two runs in the second and another in the fourth. De La Rosa contributed to both run-scoring rallies, and after seven hits and two walks, Wheeler's night came to an end when Collins pinch-hit for him to open the fifth.

"It was a frustrating day for me, just because nothing felt good that I was throwing," Wheeler said. "They didn't hit balls that hard. They hit a couple hard, but the ones they did hit were in the holes just out of reach of our defensive guys."

Jeurys Familia pitched a 1-2-3 fifth then gave way to Carlos Torres, who gave up three runs in two innings on five hits. All the damage came in the seventh, when Charlie Blackmon led off with a solo homer into the Rockies' bullpen in right and Nolan Arenado, Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau followed with singles, setting up a hard-lined sacrifice fly to center from Rosario.

"They're swinging the bats really well," Granderson said. "Everybody in that lineup, one through nine, if there's somebody coming off the bench, those guys swing it well. You look at the leader boards before the game and you see two or three or four of their guys up there in multiple categories. Got to give credit where credit's due.

"One of the most amazing things that I saw was their averages here in this ballpark. Obviously, they're comfortable here and they do an amazing job of feeding off each other. They're aggressive, they're putting good swings on the ball, and they're doing it to all sides of the field. Everybody that comes up there is a threat. It's going to be tough, but we'll try to see if we can even this series and start with the first game tomorrow."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.