DENVER - Jhoulys Chacin felt stronger as his first start of the season progressed. It was the earlier innings that did him in.
Once Chacin found some rhythm, it was already too late as the Colorado Rockies lost to the New York Mets 5-1 on Sunday.
Chacin (0-1) came off the disabled list to try to complete Colorado's sweep of the four-game series, but his early ineffectiveness gave Mets starter Dillon Gee (3-1) all the support he needed.
"I wasn't commanding my fastball today and I wasn't finishing my pitches, especially at the beginning," Chacin said. "I felt better the last couple of innings."
Chacin lasted five innings and gave up four runs. He spent the first month on the DL with a strained right shoulder.
"He had a difficult time pitching down. He was up more than we used to see it," manager Walt Weiss said. "But first time out, a little rust, battled through to give us five."
Nolan Arenado ran his hitting streak to 24 games with a double in the fourth inning, the second-longest hitting streak in Rockies history. Justin Morneau accounted for Colorado's only run with a ninth-inning homer off Jeurys Familia.
Despite losing, the Rockies (19-14) are off to their best 33-game start since 1997 when they were 21-12.
This was opening day for Chacin, who was shut down early in spring training after experiencing inflammation in his throwing shoulder. He was the team's top right-handed starter in 2013, going 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA.
Chacin struggled with his control throughout the game as he gave up eight hits and walked five. He threw 86 pitches.
"I wasn't throwing first pitch for the strike so I had to throw something in the middle, and anyone can hit it," Chacin said. "It's one of those days."
Gee threw six scoreless innings and David Wright had one of New York's four RBI doubles.
Gee kept the Rockies off balance to run his scoreless string to a career-best 16 innings. The righty, 13-6 with a 2.66 ERA since last May 30, surrendered six hits and struck out five, helping the Mets avoid being swept for the first time in a four-game series at Coors Field.
"He doesn't overpower you with stuff but it almost seems like the way he throws a pitch up it looks like a good pitch to hit but it's not a good pitch to swing at," Arenado said of Gee. "Then you foul it up or pop it up."
After wasting a 6-0 lead in Saturday's 11-10 loss, the Mets took a 4-0 lead after four innings. Wright, Chris Young and Daniel Murphy had run-scoring doubles, while Curtis Granderson chipped in an RBI single.
Arenado, hitting cleanup for the first time this season, had a one-out double in the fourth to keep alive the longest active streak in the major leagues this season.
He trails teammate Michael Cuddyer by three games for the longest streak in franchise history. Cuddyer hit in 27 straight last season.
"I kept fouling balls off and kept trying to stay with my plan for a pitch low and away. Lucky enough he threw me a changeup down and I put a swing on it," Arenado said. "It's nice having a hitting streak but ultimately we lost the game. That's the worst part."
Lucas Duda added an RBI double in the seventh that increased the lead to 5-0. He walked three times, one intentional.
Juan Lagares extended his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games with a single to start the game. Lagares originally had the day off, but was inserted into the starting lineup after Eric Young Jr. was scratched. Young was hit just below the right eye by a baseball in batting practice before the game. He's day to day with a bruised cheek.
Gee was pinpoint with his command, keeping the Rockies guessing among his curve, cutter and slider. He found himself in a sticky situation in the seventh, but the bullpen bailed him out. With two on and no outs, Carlos Torres got two outs and Scott Rice recorded the third to wiggle out of the inning.
NOTES: To make room for Chacin on the roster, the Rockies placed C Wilin Rosario (viral infection) on the 15-day DL. ... Cuddyer (strained left hamstring) began exercises in a pool. ... Rockies C Michael McKenry singled for his first hit of the season.