It's only the second time the Rockies have lost three in a row since Jim Tracy took over as manager on May 29; they lost four straight in Tracy's first week before winning 17 of 18 in June.
Colorado will try to avoid seeing this streak extend to four in the nightcap of the doubleheader at 5:10 p.m. MT, as Jorge De La Rosa looks for his seventh consecutive win against Jonathon Niese.
De La Rosa will have to be better than afternoon starter Jason Hammel, who entered the game with a 1.93 ERA on the road this season, but departed it earlier than any Rockies starter this season after recording just four outs. Hammel (5-6) allowed five straight hits to open the second inning, with all five coming around to score.
Angel Berroa's two-run double to right-center field -- only the shortstop's fifth hit of the season -- was the key blow. Hammel's ERA jumped from 4.28 to 4.66 during the game.
"I was getting ground balls there in the second inning, but they strung a few together," Hammel said. "The thing that stood out to me today was that my put-away pitches were not put-away pitches. They were in the middle of the plate. Other than that, well, I wasn't out there long enough to talk too much about it."
Three of the six hits off Hammel in the second inning came with two strikes, including Daniel Murphy's leadoff double down the right-field line and Berroa's two-run two-bagger.
An early 5-0 deficit is tough enough to overcome in normal circumstances; against Mets ace Johan Santana, it's more or less insurmountable.
Santana dissected the Rockies' lineup for seven innings, yielding just four hits and one walk while striking out eight -- the most punchouts he's registered since the end of May.
"When you're dealing with a starter of Johan Santana's stature, you can ill afford to have an inning like we had in the second inning. You can't spot the guy five runs," Tracy said. "You've dug a hole for yourself that's close to being impossible to climb out of. ... The task was monumental."
The Rockies had their one shot at Santana in the fourth inning, loading the bases on hits from Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki and a walk to Garret Atkins. With two outs, Ian Stewart launched a changeup down the right-field line, but it hooked foul into the second deck. Stewart struck out on a changeup later in the at-bat to end the threat.
"Normally, when you deal with a starter of his stature, you get an opportunity like that. But when you get it, you have to capitalize," Tracy said. "Who's to say where the game goes if the ball Stewart hit stays fair?"
Alas, the first three games in New York have been nothing but a series of what-ifs for the Rockies' offense. Bereft of the big hit on Monday and Tuesday, Colorado barely got any on Thursday. Aside from the two hits in the fourth, the Rockies could boast only a Josh Fogg single in the third and a Dexter Fowler bunt single in the fifth.
Colorado still managed to strand seven runners on base, bringing its series total to 26.
The lone bright spot of the afternoon was the Rockies' bullpen. Fogg, Juan Rincon and Matt Daley finished the game, allowing Tracy to save his main guys in the bullpen for the evening finale.
Fogg, in particular, picked up the slack for Hammel by allowing one run on a single hit in 3 2/3 innings.
"There's your shining light," Tracy said of Fogg. "Each and every time you call his name, the same guy shows up and the same strike-throwing machine shows up. ... He put us in a good position to regroup and go out there and try to fix what's taken place here the first three games."
After the first game, catcher Yorvit Torrealba could be seen trying to grab a nap. But it's just about time the Rockies woke up if they want to leave New York with a win.