Rockies 8, Mets 4

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DENVER (AP)—The Colorado Rockies avoided a series sweep at the hands of the New York Mets by getting some unexpected pop from the top and bottom of their lineup.

Jeff Francis struggled on the mound but not at the plate, posting his first career two-hit, two-RBI game in Colorado’s 8-4 win Thursday night.

And leadoff hitter Jamey Carroll had three hits to snap out of a 3-for-25 skid on a night he was inserted into the lineup not so much for what he does with his bat or glove but for the his ability to communicate with rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

With the language barrier presented by having Kaz Matsui at second base, manager Clint Hurdle said Carroll will get more playing time over the final month as the club gets a good look at their shortstop sensation who was promoted 48 hours earlier.

He got his first hit Thursday night.

“It was a relief,” Tulowitzki of his infield single in the third inning that knocked down All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and ended an 0-for-5 start to his big league career that included four strikeouts.

And that’s the same way Francis described his night in which he had an easier than expected time hitting the ball but a harder than expected time throwing it.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Francis, who allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings but helped himself out with his bat, singling home a run in the third and adding a sacrifice fly to deep center field in the fourth.

But after losing several well-pitched games this summer, he wasn’t going to quibble.

Garrett Atkins hit his 22nd homer for the Rockies, who won for the first time in six games against New York.

The Mets committed their first error in 13 games when shortstop Jose Reyes overthrew first on leadoff hitter Jamey Carroll’s infield single in the first inning. It never got much better for New York, which lost for just the third time in 12 games.

Oliver Perez (2-11) allowed seven runs and 12 hits in three-plus innings and saw his ERA swell to 7.29.

“He struggled tonight,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “He struggled with his control. He was behind in the count, a lot of deep counts. He worked hard to make pitches.”

So did Francis.

“I was probably more surprised with his offense than his pitching. If you get a couple of RBIs out of him and a couple of hits, that’s a big step forward for him on that side of the ball,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “The pitching part of it was a work, it was an exercise for him. It was a hard 103 pitches.”

But an even harder 95-pitch effort for Perez.

Even staked to a 2-0 first-inning lead on Carlos Beltran’s sacrifice fly and David Wright’s 24th homer, Perez had trouble right from the start. He gave up three runs in the first inning and had to feel lucky it wasn’t twice that, what with Choo Freeman’s drive to right dying in the wind with two men on. Matt Holliday had a two-run single in the first and Chris Iannetta added an RBI single.

“When I had to throw a strike I was missing. My slider was no good,” Perez said. “When you have trouble with location, you have trouble. You have to have location here. This stadium is tough enough on pitchers.

“I want to forget about today.”

Actually, Perez would like to forget about most of this season altogether. He hasn’t won since May 17, when he was pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Freeman’s run-scoring single in the third made it 4-2 and Francis followed with his second single, scoring Tulowitzki.

The Mets pulled to 5-4 in the fourth on Reyes’ two-run double, but the Rockies struck back in the bottom half on Atkins’ homer, a two-run line drive to left that chased Perez.

Notes

Mets RHP Orlando Hernandez (fatigue) is expected to start Sunday in Houston and Pedro Martinez (right calf) is expected to throw off the mound Saturday in the next step of his rehab. … The Mets recalled IF Anderson Hernandez from Triple A Norfolk.

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