Rockies-Mets preview

NEW YORK -- The Colorado Rockies are beginning to believe they are moving toward the cusp of playoff contention. The New York Mets are starting to run out of time to prove they are a legitimate threat to defend their National League pennant.

Two teams at the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum will meet Thursday afternoon when the Mets host the Rockies in the opener of a four-game series at Citi Field.

The Rockies posted their sixth win in seven games on Wednesday, when Nick Hundley and David Dahl hit a two-run homer and a solo shot, respectively, in the sixth inning of a 3-1 victory over the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles.

The Rockies outscored the Orioles 11-6 during the three-game series. Colorado's starting pitchers recorded a 1.86 ERA against Baltimore, which ranks fifth in the American League with 478 runs scored.

"You look at the series overall, it's one of our best series of the year," Rockies manager Walt Weiss aid. "It's got to be up there. We got real good starting pitching this series and we had some really clutch hits. That's what it takes."

With nine wins in 13 games since the All-Star break, the Rockies have improved to 49-52 and moved within six games of the Miami Marlins for the second wild card spot in the National League.

That's the type of winning consistency the Mets would like to establish. But they've been unable to establish any sort of consistency: New York has alternated wins with losses in each of its 12 games after the All-Star break.

The Mets appeared ready to finally win a second straight game Wednesday, but closer Jeurys Familia blew a regular-season save opportunity for the first time in almost a year by allowing two runs in the ninth inning of a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field.

Familia had converted 52 straight saves dating to Aug. 1, 2015, though he did blow three saves in the World Series.

"It's baseball and until the 27th out, you don't know any results," said Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who gave New York a 4-3 lead with a long two-run homer in the seventh inning. "We have a lot of faith in Familia. But things unfortunately didn't work out."

The loss dropped the Mets (53-47) 1 1/2 games behind the Marlins and 5 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.

"This is something we haven't had happen in quite some time, Jeurys Familia not saving the game," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But you've got to come back early. You've got an early day (Thursday) and we've got to get ready to play."

The Rockies will also be working on short rest after traveling overnight from Baltimore.

"It's basically like we have a split doubleheader," Weiss said. "That's how I'm looking at it."

Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom is scheduled to oppose Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson. DeGrom took the loss in his most recent start last Saturday when he gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings as the Mets fell to the Marlins 7-2. Anderson posted his third straight win on Saturday when he gave up three runs in six innings as the Rockies beat the Atlanta Braves 8-4.