Jose Mari scored a pair of goals three minutes apart in the second half as the Colorado Rapids came back to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 in MLS action Saturday.

The Rapids improved to 4-1-1 while handing the Whitecaps (2-1-2) their first loss of the young season.

Mari scored in the 79th and 82nd minutes shortly after Matias Laba's ejection for a second yellow card reduced Vancouver to 10 men.

Laba was sent off in the 77th minute following his deliberate hand-ball as he fell and grabbed the ball to prevent a scoring chance. He had already received a yellow card for a foul in the 54th minute.

A Colorado player said a few words of reminder to referee Ioannis Stavridis, who put away his yellow card and pulled out a red one.

Mari then sliced home a left-footed shot off the goalpost from the left flank. With the Whitecaps still reeling from that goal, Mari put a chip shot from the top of the box over Vancouver defenders and stunned Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted.

Darren Mattocks tallied for the Whitecaps as all of the goals came in the final 45 minutes following a scoreless first half.

The Rapids triumphed despite playing without strikers Vicente Sanchez, who shared the MLS scoring lead before Saturday's games, and Edson Buddle.

A team spokesman said the two players missed the game because they chose not to play on artificial turf. Sanchez had scored all four of his goals on penalty-kicks, while the Rapids' other goal had resulted from a rebound off a spot kick.

Meanwhile, Colorado's No. 1 goalkeeper Clint Irwin excelled in his first game of the season after being sidelined in the pre-season with a strained quadriceps. He was kept busy, and won many races to the ball, as the Whitecaps pressed for most of the first half.

Vancouver's Mattocks had a goal disallowed in the 14th minute because he went off-side, slightly behind a Colorado defensive wall. Pedro Morales took a shot and the rebound from Irwin's save came right to Mattocks, who made no mistake in converting but was victimized by his own miscue seconds earlier.

Two minutes later, Ousted stopped a dangerous Deshorn Brown shot for his only save of the first half.

But Brown beat the Whitecaps goalkeeper in the 31st minute, with a shot wide from the top of the Vancouver 18-yard box.

Mattocks had another chance five minutes later as he raced in on a breakaway, but Irwin got his hand on the shot and the rebound bounced off the Vancouver striker and in for a goal-kick.

Irwin knocked over Caps striker Kenny Miller in the 37th minute as they both raced to the ball inside the bottom right corner of the Colorado box, but no penalty was called and the Rapids were awarded another goal-kick.

Irwin was credited with three saves in the opening 45 minutes as both teams recorded eight shots, but the Rapids put only one on target. The Whitecaps had three corner-kicks, but did little with them, while Colorado was awarded just one.

Mattocks' luck finally changed in the 67th minute as he outraced Colorado defender Drew Moor to the ball, raced in on goal and scored. Irwin got his hand on the shot, but could not keep the ball out.

A minute later, the Colorado goalkeeper got his leg on a Morales shot after he took a pass from Mattocks on a three-on-one that included Miller.