Ubaldo Jimenez has had difficulty recapturing the form that led to his tremendous success early in 2010.
The Colorado Rockies' ace, however, finally showed signs of coming around during his most recent outing.
Looking to build on his last start, Jimenez takes the mound for Colorado as it closes a three-game set with the visiting New York Mets on Wednesday.
Jimenez (0-2, 5.88 ERA), who last season became just the 15th pitcher since 1952 to win at least 10 games by June 1 and went 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA to open the year, has started five Rockies losses in 2011.
The hard-throwing right-hander was slowed by a cracked cuticle and went 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA during his first four starts.
After working out a kink in his mechanics, though, he gave up one run and two hits over six innings of Friday's 4-3 loss at San Francisco and resembled the pitcher who finished third in last season's NL Cy Young voting.
"Ubaldo showed up. That was his best start to date," manager Jim Tracy said. "His fastball command will continue to improve. He made some great pitches."
While he issued a season-worst five walks, Jimenez struck out seven and was pleased with the effort.
"I was more confident and felt more comfortable," he said. "I felt like I was more consistent with my delivery."
Jimenez is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA spanning 16 innings over two career starts at home against the Mets (16-20).
David Wright and Jose Reyes have each managed two hits in 10 career at_bats against Jimenez while Ike Davis is 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. Davis, who leads New York with seven homers and 25 RBIs, left Tuesday's 4-3 win with a strained left calf.
"I know he's hurting. When he came out, he was hurting bad," said manager Terry Collins, who doubted that Davis would be available Wednesday.
Wright went 0 for 4 and has seen his average drop 21 points since May 1 to .234 thanks to a 4-for-27 slump over the last eight games.
Despite his lack of production, the Mets snapped a five-game losing streak to Colorado (19-15) on Tuesday.
"Good to finally get a win against these guys and hopefully win the series tomorrow," Wright said. "It's a very good team and when (Troy Tulowitzki) and (Carlos) Gonzalez get going, they're going to be that much more dangerous."
Tulowitzki, who entered Tuesday mired in a 3-for-38 funk spanning the previous 10 games, went 1 for 4 with a home run - his fifth in 23 at_bats this season versus the Mets, against whom he is batting .522 in 2011.
Gonzalez, who hit 26 of his team-leading 34 home runs at home in 2010, went deep for the first time at Coors Field this season on Tuesday.
"I have the best seat in the house and this is the first time I've seen glimpses of CarGo from last year, so that's encouraging," Tulowitzki said.
Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler fouled a pitch off his left knee and was forced from Tuesday's contest. His status for Wednesday is unknown.
Colorado has scored a total of 12 runs while losing five of six but is likely looking forward to facing scheduled New York starter Jonathon Niese (1-4, 4.71).
The left-hander, who gave up five runs in a 5-4 loss to the Rockies on April 13, is 0-2 with a 5.55 ERA over four career starts in the series.
Niese allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings of the Mets' 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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