Pelfrey wins sixth straight start as Mets blank Rockies for ninth victory in a row

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jerry Manuel insisted that the All-Star break was coming at a good time for the Mets. A chance to rest a tired bullpen and maybe get some banged up guys back.

Then Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer Sunday night, Mike Pelfrey dominated over eight innings and New York pounded the Colorado Rockies 7-0 for a ninth straight win.

Care to reconsider?

"I'm really looking forward to getting the second half going," Manuel said, smiling. "The way our pitching staff is going right now, I'm very excited about what's to come."

The Mets were 5½ games back in the NL East on July 4. But after a tumultuous first half that included Manuel replacing the fired Willie Randolph, they'll resume play Thursday at Cincinnati trailing division-leading Philadelphia by just a half-game.

New York's nine-game run is its best since April 16-25, 2000.

"The confidence that the team has right now is just kind of permeating through the clubhouse," Manuel said. "We're playing good baseball."

A big reason is pitching. The Mets have allowed just four runs over their last six games, capped by Pelfrey's sixth straight win and second straight shutout.

Mixing a four-seam fastball with a sharp sinker, Pelfrey (8-6) allowed only six hits and didn't walk a batter for the second consecutive game.

The big right-hander began laboring in the eighth, though, putting runners on first and second with two outs. But with the crowd chanting his name, Pelfrey got Scott Podsednik to pop out to third base.

"That was awesome. Last year I remember walking off the mound several times getting booed," said Pelfrey, who was 3-8 in 2007. "I never imagined it like this, but I never thought I wasn't capable of it."

Joe Smith worked the ninth to run the streak of scoreless innings by Mets relievers to 19 1/3. Still, the seven hits by Colorado snapped New York's string of allowing three or fewer in a record five straight games.

While the Mets sure seem as if they'd rather be playing Monday, the Rockies looked as if they were already on a break. They've lost four straight and 11 of 13 on the road.

"Score one run in three games? You're not going to win much," said Clint Hurdle, who'll stick around New York to manage the National League in Tuesday night's All-Star Game. "We have to give them credit. We were playing good ball coming in here."

Making his third start since replacing the injured Jeff Francis in the rotation, Mark Redman (2-5) ran into trouble from the start.

Nick Evans got aboard with a one-out base hit, David Wright followed with a walk and Beltran drove a 1-2 pitch an estimated 415 feet to left field for a 3-0 lead in the first.

Jose Reyes added a run-scoring single in the second and Evans a sacrifice fly in the fourth, driving Redman from the game after five runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

"I didn't put us in a good position, putting us in a three-run deficit in the first inning," said Redman, winless since April 16. "That's not what you want to do."

Carlos Delgado added a two-run homer in the fifth, but by then the Rockies were already on their way to finishing the first half 39-57. It's the third-worst record at the All-Star break for a team coming off a World Series appearance in a non-strike year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The 1998 Marlins were 32-55 at the break and the '79 Dodgers were 36-57.

Colorado's best chance to score came in the fourth when Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe hit consecutive one-out singles. Garrett Atkins dribbled a grounder to third baseman Wright, who threw to Damion Easley at second to start a double play.

Easley had trouble fielding the low throw but still got it to Delgado at first in time for the out. Hurdle came out to question whether Easley was pulled off the bag, which would have allowed a run to score, but umpire Chuck Meriwether promptly sent the manager back to the dugout with little argument.

"It's coming at a good time," Hurdle said of the All-Star break. "We sure won't miss this place."

Game notes
Pelfrey hasn't allowed a run in a career-best 16 innings. ... Rockies RHP Kip Wells, who had surgery to remove a blood clot in his hand, will make one more rehab start Wednesday at Double-A Tulsa, Hurdle said. ... There was a moment of silence before the game for Bobby Murcer, the former Yankees great who died Saturday at the age of 62.