HOUSTON -- A no-decision never felt better to Juan Nicasio.
Making his first start since a terrifying neck injury last August, Nicasio allowed one run on five hits in seven innings in Colorado's 3-2 loss to Houston on Sunday.
"I wasn't nervous, I was feeling good," Nicasio said. "Thank you God, because I wanted to have the opportunity to get to the mound, I want to go to compete. Just get it out of the way. It's time."
Nicasio, who played for the Tri-City Dust Devils in 2008, struck out four with only one walk, but Colorado couldn't hold the lead.
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Rex Brothers (0-1) -- another Dust Devils alumnus -- relieved Nicasio for the bottom of the eighth, when Colorado led 2-1.
With two outs, Jose Altuve singled and J.D. Martinez beat out a grounder hit so sharply back to Brothers that it knocked off the pitcher's glove. Brian Bixler came in to run for Martinez.
Third baseman Jordan Pacheco then backhanded Carlos Lee's grounder, but threw wildly to first, and Altuve scored to tie it. Brian Bogusevic singled to right on the next pitch, Bixler trotted home and Houston took a 3-2 lead.
"I didn't get a good grip on it and threw it away," said Pacheco, who played two summers for Tri-City in 2007-08.
Wilin Rosario hit a two-run homer earlier for the Rockies, who mustered only four hits off Houston starter Bud Norris.
Astros' reliever Wilton Lopez (1-0) finished the eighth, and Brett Myers pitched a scoreless ninth for Houston to earn the save.
"Because of our inability to do anything offensively other than the one swing Wilin Rosario took, we put ourselves in a position where any little mistake that gets made is going to get magnified, and potentially cost us the game," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "And that's exactly what happened."
Despite the loss, Tulowitzki said Nicasio's return gave everyone in the Colorado clubhouse a boost.
Nicasio, 4-4 in 13 starts as a rookie last season, was hurt last Aug. 5 when a line drive by Washington's Ian Desmond hit him. He underwent surgery to have two pins inserted into his cracked C-1 vertebra and also had a small metal plate attached to the back of his neck.
"To see him pitch, after what he's gone through," Tulowitzki said, "that's a big accomplishment."