DENVER -- John Maine on the mound facing essentially a Triple-A lineup. It appeared to be the perfect pick-me-up for Mets manager Willie Randolph.
The Colorado Rockies beat New York 4-1 Sunday when Smith hit his first major league homer, a three-run shot to back an impressive start by Cook (7-3). The right-hander allowed four hits, all singles, in his seventh career complete game and first since July 25.
"We're not up here filling space," said Smith, one of four recent call-ups in Colorado's starting lineup. "We're not up here just waiting until they get back. We're here to help this team win baseball games."
Awaiting the embattled Randolph back home Monday is a meeting with ownership amid speculation that his job is in jeopardy.
Randolph said he has no trepidation.
"No, just looking to win a ballgame," he said. "We got the Marlins coming in, they're in our division, looking forward to getting back on the right track."
Does he expect to still be the manager after his meeting?
"I don't see why not," he said.
After a losing streak that dropped the Mets (23-25) below .500, general manager Omar Minaya made a surprise visit Friday to Coors Field and issued a tepid statement of support for Randolph to reporters. Randolph, however, said his boss gave him no similar assurances behind closed doors.
The Mets have dropped six of seven and nine of 13. They averaged only 2.4 runs in their past seven games.
The Rockies know all about spoiled expectations. After winning their first pennant last year, the Rockies expected a strong start in 2008, but they've been foiled by poor pitching, lousy hitting and an injury bug that keeps claiming victims.
Prior to Sunday's game, the Rockies placed slugger Matt Holliday on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He joined a crowded list of injured players for the defending NL champions, who put shortstop Clint Barmes (knee) and right fielder Brad Hawpe (hamstring) on the DL on Saturday.
Barmes was the team's leading hitter at .343 after taking over for Troy Tulowitzki, out until midseason with a torn left quadriceps tendon.
Maine (5-4) handled the makeshift lineup with ease at first, allowing no hits until Smith sent a 2-2 fastball over the right-field wall in the fourth following a walk and an error by shortstop Jose Reyes. Smith's drive gave Colorado a 3-1 lead.
Maine, who also gave up a sacrifice fly to Yorvit Torrealba in the sixth, allowed four runs, three earned, and three hits in six innings. He struck out a season-high eight batters.
The Mets' run came on Reyes' RBI single in the third. Otherwise, Cook was nearly untouchable. He walked one and struck out three in the first complete game by a Rockies pitcher since Jeff Francis did it last Aug. 29 against San Francisco.
The Rockies' lineup included four players who started the season at Triple-A: Smith, Jonathan Herrera, Ian Stewart and Omar Quintanilla, plus two players who aren't normally starters in Scott Podsednik and Ryan Spilborghs.
"That doesn't mean anything, they are ballplayers," Mets slugger Carlos Beltran said. "I know there's a lot of players in different positions that we didn't know, but that doesn't mean anything, they are capable of playing here and they won."
Back home, Randolph will get a chance to explain to Fred and Jeff Wilpon his recent comments about his portrayal on Mets broadcasts in which he raised the issue of race, Minaya said. Randolph has apologized for his comments.
"I think it's over," Minaya said Sunday. "Once Willie apologized, that's it."
Asked if the owners needed to say anything to Randolph about his comments, Minaya said: "I don't think so. We need to move forward and focus on getting the team better."
Minaya said he took Randolph and his coaching staff out to dinner after Saturday night's victory. He also said he appreciated Randolph's attitude when the manager joked about his boss' arrival in Denver by saying he spotted Minaya sharpening his machete.
"I'm a believer of being in a good mood and staying positive," Minaya said. "Be yourself and be positive. I'm pretty sure he was joking. For me, joking about things, that's baseball."
None of the Mets were smiling as they trudged out of Coors Field for their flight home, having lost a series to an injury-riddled team that's 20-30.
As they left, Beltran said the Mets aren't fretting over Randolph's fate.
"What happens in the front office, there is nothing we can do about it," he said. "We just need to continue to come to the ballpark and play hard and try to win ballgames. Whatever happens, happens. We're employees here. We just need to basically forget about this road trip, it was a horrible road trip for us."
The seven combined hits matched the lowest output in Coors Field history. ... Smith is 6-for-14 in nine regular-season major league games.
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