NEW YORK — Rafael Montero found pitching in the majors easier the third time around.
The rookie right-hander earned his first career win, Eric Young Jr. went 3-for-3 with an RBI triple and the suddenly surging New York Mets beat the Colorado Rockies 2-0 Sept. 10th for their fourth consecutive victory.
Montero (1-3) returned from the minors and allowed three hits over 5 1-3 innings in his seventh big league start. This is his third stint with New York this season.
“Thank God that it happened,” Montero said through a translator. “If I can continue to pitch the way I pitched tonight, hopefully more to come.”
Dilson Herrera scored twice and Juan Lagares had a sacrifice fly for the Mets, who have won seven of eight. New York finished a three-game sweep of last-place Colorado, winning the final two by identical scores behind Montero and fellow rookie Jacob deGrom.
It marks the first time the Mets have thrown consecutive shutouts since June 29-30, 2012.
Colorado was outscored 7-2 in the series and has lost six straight games at Citi Field.
“We pitched very well this series and Tyler (Matzek) threw the ball very well again tonight,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “You score two runs in three games and you’re not going to win.”
Montero did not give up a hit until Matzek’s fifth-inning double. He struck out seven and walked two, throwing 106 pitches in his first major league start since Aug. 17.
New York remained 5 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the second NL wild card.
“I’m very pleased,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said. “I think when you walk through the clubhouse doors right now in September, even though you’re looking at a wild card, you’re still playing for something. And that’s the only way to go in every day, to know that it’s fun to go out there and compete.”
Herrera worked a two-out walk against Matzek (5-10) in the second. Young followed with a drive to right-center that just glanced off the glove of center fielder Drew Stubbs.
The triple was Young’s fourth of the season and his first extra-base hit — and RBI — since Aug. 24. His three hits matched a season high.
“Just a matter of if he was going to try to make a catch for it,” Young said. “I knew if it got past him, I was already going for three. And if he caught it, then tough luck.”
The Rockies threatened in the sixth after a leadoff double by Stubbs and a single by Justin Morneau put runners at second and third. Montero struck out Nolan Arenado on a high fastball, the last batter he faced.
Dario Alvarez retired Chris Dickerson on a dribbler in front of the plate, and Carlos Torres induced a popup to shortstop from Michael McKenry.
Torres gave up a hit in the seventh, Jeurys Familia worked the eighth and Jenrry Mejia rebounded from a shaky outing Sept. 9th to finish the four-hitter.
Mejia’s perfect ninth gave him his 25th save in 28 opportunities. He became the youngest Mets pitcher to save 25 games in a season.
“Confidence is up amongst the players,” Young said. “It’s needed going into the Washington series. We can really put a damper in some of their season as well as accelerate ourselves here in these last couple of weeks.”
New York added a run in the seventh after Herrera drew his second walk from Matzek and went to second on Young’s single. Pinch-hitter Josh Satin walked, and Herrera scored on Lagares’ fly to left.
Matzek gave up two runs on four hits and four walks in 6 1-3 innings.