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For Colon, another uneven start in uneven year

Elevated pitches leading to trouble; veteran right-hander 'not worried yet'

For Colon, another uneven start in uneven year

NEW YORK -- In the course of a 20-minute discussion of the Mets' pitching changes before Monday night's 9-7 win over the Yankees, general manager Sandy Alderson allowed that he wasn't satisfied with his team's offense or bullpen but thought that the starting pitching has been pretty dependable.

That, of course, was before the Mets went out and outslugged the Yankees at The Stadium in the opener of the four-game home-and-home Subway Series. Baseball has a way of doing that.

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The Mets were naturally pleased with a second come-from-behind victory in as many games, having rallied to beat the Phillies on Sunday.

The kicker is that 40-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon had another tough outing. In 5 2/3 innings, he allowed seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits. Even though Colon didn't figure in the decision, his ERA rose to 5.84.

Last season, Colon was 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA for the Athletics. The Mets didn't necessarily expect him to match those numbers when they decided to give him a two-year, $20 million contract in December, but they clearly hoped for better results than this.

Manager Terry Collins talked before the game about how Colon has had some good starts this season when he has kept the ball down, but he acknowledged that the veteran righty been hit hard when the ball is up. Monday night was a little bit of both. For much of the night, Colon kept the Yanks in check, but he gave up four runs in the second and three more in the sixth, when he was knocked out of the game after throwing 91 pitches.

After the game, the manager had few answers.

"I don't know enough about him in the past to make a real good statement on [whether to be concerned]," Collins said. "All I know is this is more of a quality veteran guy. I just see him making some mistakes in the middle of the plate, and he normally doesn't do that. I don't know if he's trying to get used to something. But, again, he's got to keep the ball down. It's the home runs that are doing the damage to him."

Colon has allowed eight homers in 49 1/3 innings so far this season. He gave up just one on Monday, but it was a grand slam to Brett Gardner that gave the Yankees an early lead.

Colon gave up three sharp singles to load the bases to start the inning. He then struck out Kelly Johnson and retired Brian Roberts on a line drive to first baseman Lucas Duda, but Gardner belted the first pitch he saw into the bleachers in right-center.

"I really feel like the only pitch I failed at was the one where Brett came up and hit the grand slam," Colon said through a translator.

Nor does Colon see any reason for alarm.

"There's still too much season left to go; I'm not worried yet," he said.

What was curious about Colon's outing was that he gave up just an infield single in the first inning. And after the grand slam, he retired 11 of 12 batters. But then, with one out in the sixth, Colon gave up a double to Alfonso Soriano, an RBI single to Yangervis Solarte and a bases-clearing triple to Johnson. Johnson, running on contact, was tagged out when Roberts hit a grounder to third. Gardner followed with a single, and Colon was done for the night.

Colon shrugged again when asked if there's anything he thinks he needs to work on to recapture the success he had in 2013 and what the difference was on Monday between the innings in which he retired the Yanks easily and the innings when they scored their runs.

"I don't think I have to change anything," Colon said. "I just have to keep working hard, as I always do. I didn't do anything differently. There are just a few innings sometimes where you don't do as well, but I took advantage when I could."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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