By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- While their records aren't indicative of their efforts, the New York Mets' Johan Santana and Colorado Rockies' Jamie Moyer are both off to impressive starts after missing all of last season due to injury.
Santana takes the hill opposite the 49-year-old Moyer as the Mets and Rockies conclude a three-game set Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.
One day after posting its highest run total of the season during an 18-9 win over New York (12-9), Colorado had a hard time containing the Mets during Saturday's 7-5 loss. Starting in place of the injured Jeremy Guthrie, Guillermo Moscoso was tagged for six runs in five innings as the Rockies (10-10) suffered their third loss in four meetings with New York.
"They were able to battle and fight and find some holes," Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. "They were hitting it where nobody was and rolling balls through the infield. It's frustrating but we've still got a chance to win the series."
While Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy and David Wright - the Mets' 2-3-4 hitters - went a combined 9 for 14 with five runs scored, it was Lucas Duda who shined brightest. Duda, who's raised his average 68 points by going 9 for 21 over his last six games, hit his fourth homer and matched a career high with four RBIs.
The Mets have to like their chances of winning for the fifth time in six games if Santana (0-2, 3.00 ERA) can build on his latest effort.
After allowing six runs - four earned - and managing to record just four outs during a 9-3 loss at Atlanta on April 17, Santana got back on track during Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Miami. The former two-time Cy Young Award winner allowed one run, three hits and struck out a season-high 11 over 6 2-3 innings - his longest outing of the year.
"I still have a long way to go, but it's good to have an outing like this. I'm looking forward to the next one," he said.
Santana, who sat out 2011 due to shoulder surgery, seems to have a good chance of taking another step in the right direction with a matchup against Colorado. Santana has surrendered just eight hits and struck out 18 over 16 scoreless innings en route to winning his two career starts versus the Rockies.
A week after becoming the oldest pitcher to win a big-league game, Moyer (1-2, 2.28) left in line for the win Tuesday before Colorado's bullpen was roughed up in a 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh. The veteran left-hander yielded one run, six hits and three walks over six innings.
"I can economize a little bit better," he told the team's official website "I threw too many pitches at certain points of the game and that forces me to work a little too hard."
While Moyer isn't going to blow anyone away at this point in his career, he's still making things difficult on opposing batters.
"It was three frustrating at-bats," said Pirates All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who went 0 for 3 against Moyer. "Man, three-at bats, I can't believe he got me out. You know he has nothing to throw by you, but he just nitpicks, he hits his spots and he gets outs ... Honestly I mean, you don't see 70-79 (mph) every day."
Moyer, who is 10-6 with a 3.94 ERA lifetime versus the Mets, went 2-2 with a 7.04 ERA in seven starts against them while with Philadelphia from 2009-10. He did not pitch last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in December 2010.
Updated April 29, 2012