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COL@ATL: Bettis goes five innings in his MLB debut

After dropping six of seven, the Rockies will try to salvage an otherwise dispiriting 10-game road trip in a three-game series against the Mets that starts off Tuesday at Citi Field.

Desperate for a series that can stop them from sliding closer to the basement of the National League West, the Rockies will try to pick up just their second win in six days. The Mets are working through trials of their own, falling Sunday for the fourth time in five games.

Rookie right-hander Chad Bettis will make his second career start after allowing five runs in five innings against the Braves. He moves up a day to step in for Tyler Chatwood, who is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Jhoulys Chacin will pitch on Wednesday; the starter for Thursday's series finale is to be determined.

"I like challenges," said Bettis, 24, the Rockies' second-round Draft pick in 2010 out of Texas Tech. "It's who I've always been. I feel like this is a huge learning experience for me, facing the Braves and then going up to New York. I can learn a lot from these two starts and apply it to my third one."

Bettis will face a Mets lineup in the midst of rediscovering its identity without David Wright, who went down with a hamstring strain Friday. Lacking their offensive cornerstone, the burden falls largely on a pair of hot-hitting outfielders: Marlon Byrd and Juan Lagares.

Lagares, the Mets' rookie center fielder, hit .353 in July, and Byrd's 17 homers and .503 slugging percentage are among the top 10 in the NL. The veteran outfielder is one shy of 100 career home runs.

Manager Terry Collins shuffled the lineup and moved Lagares to the No. 2 spot Saturday, but plans to return infielder Daniel Murphy to that spot over the long term.

"He's really swinging the bat very good in the two hole," Collins said of Murphy. "He's been getting on, and from that spot he's been very effective, so we decided he's comfortable there, and I'm going to put him back there to get him out there in the first inning, anyway."

The Mets will turn to a promising 23-year-old right-hander in Jennry Mejia. Mejia (1-1, 2.08 ERA) has made only two starts this year, but has shown flashes of dominance approaching his 2013 Citi Field debut.

Rockies: Searching for runs
A month into the season, offense looked like the most distant of issues for the high-powered Rockies.

But Colorado has averaged only three runs per game on this ugly road trip, held to two runs or fewer in four of seven games against the Braves and Pirates. While the pitching has improved as the season has progressed, the run support simply has not arrived.

It's been a steep descent since April, as the Rockies ranked in the bottom five of the Majors in runs, hits and average in July. Their 488 runs still rank third in the NL, but 289 of those have come at Coors Field.

Mets: Davis emerging from slump
A few weeks in the Minor Leagues may have been just the remedy to pull first baseman Ike Davis from a serious first-half slump.

Since returning to the Mets after playing 21 games with Triple-A Las Vegas, Davis is hitting .261 with nine RBIs and a homer. His .421 on-base percentage since July 5 is among the best in the league.

Before the early-June demotion, Davis had a .161 average with a .242 on-base percentage and five home runs.

Worth noting
• Mejia has allowed one run in two relief appearances against Colorado. That one run was a walk-off home run by former Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta in a 6-5, 10-inning win on April 14, 2010.

• A career .258 hitter on the road, Carlos Gonzalez has shown marked improvement this year with a .332 average, 14 homers and 28 RBIs away from Denver.

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