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Chacin looks rusty in long-awaited season debut

Arenado extends streak to 24 games and Morneau homers

DENVER -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin made his 2014 debut Sunday afternoon, but the performance showed he isn't quite back.

Chacin gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings as the Mets, who got six scoreless innings from starter Dillon Gee, avoided being swept in a four-game series by winning, 5-1, on Sunday at Coors Field in front of 40,190.

"You're going to have to battle every start; it's never easy here," said Chacin, who went 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 31 starts last season. "You have to throw strikes, keep the ball down and make them hit a ground ball. That's my game.

"Today, I didn't get a lot of ground balls. Today wasn't my game and wasn't my day."

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "He had a difficult time pitching down. He was up more than we're used to seeing him. But first time out, a little rust. But he battled through to give us five [innings]."

The Rockies' Nolan Arenado extended his hit streak to 24 games -- second-longest in club history to the 27-game run Michael Cuddyer had last season -- with a fourth-inning double. But the Rockies managed little else against Gee (3-1).

Justin Morneau led off the ninth with his seventh homer of the season, off Mets Jeurys Familia, to prevent the Rockies from being shut out for the first time this season.

Gee, who pitched the Mets to a 2-1 victory over the Rockies last Aug. 8 at Citi Field, gave up six hits but struck out five and prevented the Rockies from putting together any rallies.

"He doesn't really overpower you with stuff, but it almost seems like when he throws you a pitch up, it looks like a good pitch to hit but it's not a good pitch to swing at," Arenado said.

Imagine if Gee had felt sharp. But some days, things work out.

He knew he was headed for a good one when he reached behind his back to field DJ LeMahieu's sharp bouncer, then calmly threw him out at first base to end the second inning.

"I think I've had better stuff than I had today," Gee said. "It's like that play I catch (the ball) behind my back. You got to have things like that happen for an outing like this, really."

After being defeated, 11-10, on Saturday night, the Mets kept hitting, especially from the top of the batting order. Leadoff man Juan Lagares had three hits, including a double, and extended his hit streak to 13 games.

Chacin (0-1) suffered a right shoulder strain before even throwing a bullpen session in Spring Training, and had to rest and recover before beginning his preparation. Sunday's start came after he had thrown four Minor League rehab starts.

His first time facing big leaguers saw the Mets take advantage of pitches left up and over the plate. Curtis Granderson's RBI single highlighted a four-hit Mets first inning. David Wright and Chris Young had doubles in a two-run third, and back-to-back doubles by Lagares and Daniel Murphy pushed across a run in the fourth.

Five walks (one intentional) is a figure that has to be improved. But everything will be better when Chacin's command improves and he is forcing ground balls.

But Chacin felt some of the rust go away in the fourth and fifth.

"I felt much better in making my pitches, throwing strikes, throwing my slider and curveball better," Chacin said. "I don't feel bad about the whole game."

Lucas Duda added an RBI double off Rockies reliever Tommy Kahnle in the seventh. Michael McKenry and Corey Dickerson opened the Rockies' seventh with singles off Gee. But Mets reliever Carlos Torres forced a LeMahieu groundout and struck out Drew Stubbs, and Scott Rice forced Charlie Blackmon to fly to center.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.
Read More: Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado, Justin Morneau