R.A. Dickey's quest to win 20 games took a hit Monday night. Even though he hardly gave up any.
Dickey allowed one run and three hits in seven innings, but the Mets were beaten by the Rockies, 3-1, at Citi Field.
With the game tied at 1 following Dickey's exit, the go-ahead run scored on a passed ball by new Met Kelly Shoppach after Josh Edgin committed a throwing error on a bunt single in the eighth inning.
Dickey remained at 15-4 after lowering his ERA to 2.82. He walked two and struck out six. He was removed for a pinch hitter after throwing 99 pitches.
"I completely understood the strategy of trying to win a game," Dickey said. "I mean, everybody on that bench is a better hitter than me."
Mets manager Terry Collins wants to give the knuckleballer every chance to get 20. The Mets are using a six-man rotation, but Dickey is still going every fifth day with Jeremy Hefner bopping around as the sixth man.
"This guy has earned the right to achieve anything he can at the end of the season," Collins said. "He's earned that. He's earned that respect and I hope he wins his next four starts or five starts. If he does and you look at the end of the year and he's got 22 wins, he's 22-4, those are pretty good numbers."
For example, Dickey will pitch Saturday against Houston on his normal turn. Hefner, who lost to the Nationals on Sunday, will face the Astros the next day.
"I want to get to 16 wins," Dickey said. "And however I can do that is what I'm interested in. And that means, in the immediate, I can get myself ready to pitch against the Houston Astros on Saturday. That's my only concern."
The game was tied at 1 in the eighth when Jonathan Herrera bunted up the first-base line. Edgin fielded it and tried to flip the ball to first with his glove. The throw was nowhere near Ike Davis and went down the rightfield line as Herrera took second.
Herrera moved to third on a grounder and scored when Shoppach couldn't handle an inside pitch from Edgin (1-1). Shoppach had entered the game as a pinch hitter in the previous inning.
The Mets came this close to tying it in the eighth. With the bases loaded and two outs, pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin hit a shot to first that Tyler Colvin fielded on a dive. Pitcher Matt Belisle was late covering and Colvin's toss barely beat the headfirst-sliding Valdespin -- according to umpire Adrian Johnson.
Replays indicated Valdespin was out by a fingernail. An irate Valdespin got in Johnson's face and was lucky not to get ejected.
"I was safe," Valdespin said. "He called 'out' and I said, 'You missed the play.' He said nothing."
Thus the Mets opened a seven-game homestand against Colorado and Houston, the teams that went into Monday night with the worst records in baseball. The Mets are offering 50-percent off tickets for this week's games on their website; Monday night's attendance was 23,833.
The injury-decimated Rockies were without Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Todd Helton (hip surgery), Michael Cuddyer (oblique) and Jason Giambi (viral syndrome). And Carlos Gonzalez was away from the team after the death of his grandfather.
The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. David Wright doubled to left with two outs. After Davis walked, Daniel Murphy lined an RBI single to left.
Colorado tied it in the fifth when Colvin crushed an 0-and-2 knuckleball off the facing of the second deck in right for his 14th home run.