HARRISBURG - With the score tied, the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Altoona needed a sharp ground ball and a double play to force extra innings in its game with Harrisburg Monday night at Metro Bank Park.
The Curve got one of the two, but unfortunately for Altoona, it wasn't the one it needed to keep the game going.
Valdez grounded to Jeremy Farrell, and the third baseman's throw was late to second. The throw to first got Valdez, but Derek Norris scored from third and the Senators walked off with a 3-2 victory.
Curve manager P.J. Forbes and Farrell argued the call, which Curve radio broadcaster Josh Ellis originally said on air was correct but later texted to the Mirror that further replays showed the play was "very close" and it was hard to tell if Harrisburg center fielder Jonathan Tucker reached second before Farrell's throw.
"Sometimes the umpires just decide to blow a game," catcher Tony Sanchez tweeted after the game. "Never seen a winning teams crowd go silent as the game winning run crosses the plate."
The loss dropped Altoona to 14-15 despite a strong performance from starter Mike Colla.
In his third start of the season, Colla went five innings, allowed just one run on three hits and struck out five.
The right-hander left with the lead after Farrell put the Curve up, 2-1. Farrell boosted his average to .351 with a solo home run in the second inning and an RBI double in the fourth that scored Quincy Latimore. It was Farrell's third home run and 11th double on the season.
Chris Leroux, who joined Altoona last week from Triple-A Indianapolis, failed to protect Colla's lead - surrending Tim Pahuta's second home run of the game during the seventh inning.
After Ryan Mattheus (2-0) retired the Curve in order in the top of the ninth, Altoona closer Noah Krol (1-2) walked Norris, Pahuta and Tucker before giving up Valdez's RBI groundout with one out.
Altoona had its best shot to recapture the lead in the eighth inning.
Jordy Mercer walked with two outs and stole second base, but Farrell grounded out to shortstop. The Curve are now 1-3 on their six-game road trip.
Aaron Pribanic, 3-0 with a sparkling 1.86 ERA, will get the start for Altoona tonight as the up-and-down Curve look to even their record once again.
Key player: Tim Pahuta, hitting just .200 this season after going 2-for-3 Monday, hit a pair of home runs for the Senators.
Key play: The Curve failed to turn a double play on Jesus Valdez on the final play of the game with the bases loaded and one out.
Key stat: After getting five hits off starter Erik Arnesen in 5 1/3 innings pitched, Altoona managed just one hit off three Harrisburg relievers in the final 3 2/3 innings.
How they scored
Top 2nd: Jeremy Farrell homered. (1-0).
Bottom 2nd: Tim Pahuta homered. (1-1).
Top 4th: Quincy Latimore singled, scored on Farrell double (2-1).
Bottom 7th: Pahuta homered. (2-2).
Bottom 9th: Derek Norris walked, scored on Jesus Valdez fielder's choice (2-3).