NEW YORK — Jim Tracy wants his Colorado Rockies pitchers to take it to the limit.
And his 75-pitch boundary for starters seems to be working of late.
Tyler Chatwood combined with four relievers in a 1-0 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday, completing a four-game sweep and giving the last-place Rockies a five-game winning streak that tied their season high.
"What we just did today is not easy to do. It's not easy to do — sweep a four-game series on the road," Tracy said.
Ever since the Rockies went to a four-man rotation in June, their starters have been on tight limits. The Colorado manager has kept the restraints in place even as the Rockies have gone back to a quintet of starters.
Chatwood was pulled after allowing three hits over three innings. He needed 65 pitches to get nine outs.
"I was getting close to the 75 pitches, so they made the decision," Chatwood said. "You always want to be economical. I think that's your job as a starting pitcher, to go as deep as you can in a game. And I think that 75 pitches kind of makes you go right after the guy."
No Rockies starter has reached 100 pitches since Jeremy Guthrie threw 102 against Oakland on June 12, according to STATS LLC.
Forget about complete games — they've gone the way of the Dodo bird in Colorado. The Rockies haven't had one since Jhoulys Chacin in a 2-1 loss at Cincinnati on Aug. 11 last year. Tracy still was raving about Chacin's six-inning, 73-pitch effort in Tuesday's 6-2 victory.
"Fifty-one of the 73 were strikes," he said. "In my opinion, that's quality major league pitching. When you throw 80 pitches or you throw 75 pitches in three innings, or 78 pitches in three innings, and someone's going to sit here from what I've experienced in over 36 years and tell me that that's quality major league pitching, I'll strongly disagree with whoever is uttering it to me. I want our guys to understand what quality major league pitching is all about."
On the other side, New York's Collin McHugh pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings in a dazzling big league debut. After he left, the Rockies quickly went ahead against Bobby Parnell (2-3) as Jordany Valdespin misplayed Tyler Colvin's leadoff drive in the eighth into a game-changing triple.
Colvin hit Parnell's second pitch to straightaway center, where the rookie Valdespin took two steps in, then realized he had misjudged the drive. He backpedaled a half-dozen steps and tried for a leaping, backhand grab, but the ball sailed over his glove.
"I knew I hit it well, and I knew it had pretty good backspin on it," Colvin said. "It was going to be decided on how he read it, and he took a couple steps in.
Chris Nelson fouled off a pair of 0-2 pitches, then singled to center past the drawn-in infield.
Brooklyn native Adam Ottovino and Rex Brothers (8-2) followed Chatwood with two innings each, and Willie Harris escaped a runner-on-second situation in the eighth.
Matt Belisle got his first save since June 22, 2010, against Boston following some ninth-inning drama. Pinch-hitter Justin Turner singled leading off and was sacrificed to second by Valdespin. Daniel Murphy flied to center and David Wright flied to right.
PHILADELPHIA — John Mayberry Jr. hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Todd Frazier drove in all three runs for the NL Central-leading Reds, who were seeking their first series win in Philadelphia since 2006.
The Phillies tied it in the eighth on Jimmy Rollins' sacrifice fly and won it on Mayberry's hit to split the four-game set and take over sole possession of third place in the NL East for the first time since April.
ST. LOUIS — David Freese's three-run homer snapped the Cardinals' seven-game long-ball drought and St. Louis beat the Houston Astros to complete a three-game sweep.
Freese and Matt Holliday each had four RBIs and Allen Craig had three hits and three RBIs. The Cardinals shrugged aside a 4-0, fourth-inning deficit and sent Houston to its seventh straight loss.
The Astros are 0-4 while getting outscored 32-8 since interim manager Tony DeFrancesco replaced Brad Mills as leader of the stripped-down roster. Houston has won just seven of its last 50 overall.
DETROIT — Alex Avila's RBI single with two outs in the 11th gave the Detroit Tigers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, one inning after center fielder Austin Jackson kept the game tied with a spectacular catch.
The Blue Jays had a runner on second in the 10th when Anthony Gose lifted what looked like a sure hit to the gap in right-center. But Jackson raced over and made a diving catch.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb pitched a four-hitter for his first major league shutout and the surging Tampa Bay Rays beat the Oakland Athletics to pull within 2 1/2 games of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
Matt Joyce hit a two-run double in a five-run fifth inning against Tyson Ross, hastily called up from the minors to pitch in place of suspended Oakland starter Bartolo Colon.
BOSTON — Kendrys Morales led off Los Angeles' two-run 10th inning with a solo homer, and the Angels completed a three-game sweep of Boston by outlasting the Red Sox.
The Red Sox wasted a 6-0 lead then rallied from deficits of 8-7 in the sixth and 12-11 in the ninth. But closer Alfredo Aceves struggled after Boston was one out away from victory in the ninth. Aceves (2-8) gave up five runs and six hits in one inning, and the Red Sox lost for the 11th time in 15 games.
Ernesto Frieri (2-0) got the win after giving up a tying solo homer in the ninth to Cody Ross, his 19th of the season, and an RBI single in the 10th to Dustin Pedroia, who drove in five runs.