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Pirates Vs. Padres: Bucs Lose Close Game After Dubious Bullpen Management

The Pirates lost 6-5 to the Padres at PETCO Park on Tuesday night, blowing a late lead as their top relievers remained glued to the bullpen bench.

The early part of the game was characterized by a number of deep, well-hit fly balls. Those are rarities in the pitcher's paradise of San Diego, but even the ones that make it to the deep part of the outfield are subject to the whims of PETCO. A number of them died in the outfield. The Bucs scored in the first on two-run double by Neil Walker, but gave back both those runs when starter Jeff Karstens allowed homers to Mat Latos (the pitcher) and Eric Patterson in the third. The Padres scored a third run later in the inning on an RBI single by Cameron Maybin.

The Pirates roared back in the seventh, thanks to an RBI double by Matt Diaz and an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen. But that's when things went bad. Mike Crotta allowed the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh to reach base, and then the Pirates turned to Joe Beimel to get the lefty Patterson. That made sense - the lefty Beimel does well when pitching to fellow lefties. But Patterson reached on a bunt single. Clint Hurdle then left Beimel out there to face two righties in a row with no outs and the bases loaded in a two-run game. Chris Resop, who threw 31 pitches Monday, was apparently unavailable, but Hurdle could have brought in Jose Veras, who has pitched brilliantly in similar situations recently. But no. Instead, Beimel walked in a run, then allowed another on a double play. Then Hurdle left him out there for the eighth inning as well, and he gave up a towering home run on an ugly mistake pitch to righty catcher Rob Johnson.

Game, set, match, as it was 6-5 Padres and time for nasty closer Heath Bell. The Pirates managed to get the leadoff batter, Brandon Wood, to second, but Wood got gunned down at third when he broke on a ball in the dirt. In the end, the Pirates blew a three-run lead without ever using Veras or Joel Hanrahan.

Pedro Alvarez left the game due to a tight quad muscle, and he'll probably miss the game on Wednesday.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.