Zach Foster was possibly one out from a fairytale debut with Altoona.
The out did come, but not with Foster on the mound, and not until Richmond scored six runs in the top of the eighth inning to rally from a one-run deficit and deal the Curve and Foster a loss.
It only got uglier in the ninth as the Flying Squirrels tacked on three more runs and five hits in a 15-7 win over Altoona at Peoples Natural Gas Field in front of 3,272 fans Friday night.
The Curve managed to avoid breaking the team record for runs allowed at home (19) but Foster, starter Aaron Pribanic, Jhonathan Ramos and Matt McSwain combined to give up a team-record 22 hits in the setback.
"We didn't use both sides of the plate well tonight," Altoona manager P.J. Forbes said. "They got some hits that they leaned out over the plate and just put the ball in play, but we didn't use the inner part of the plate to keep them away from that.
"Give them credit, but we have to do a better job."
Pribanic, who went 10-9 with a 3.88 ERA in his first season with the Curve last year, put Altoona in a hole early, allowing six earned runs on nine hits in 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander's ERA ballooned to 7.36.
The Curve's hitters got Pribanic off the hook for a loss by rallying from a 6-2 deficit to take a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Richmond retook the lead in the eighth.
Foster, who had scored the go-ahead run in the sixth on a two-run single by Adalberto Santos and was poised to be the winning pitcher, had two outs in the eighth before Jose Flores stole second. Moments later, Daniel Mayora doubled home Flores and opened the floodgates.
"I got away from my fastball a little bit," Foster said. "I left a slider over the plate, and the guy hit a double down the line. It was just one of those nights, I guess."
Flores' stolen base was the fourth in four attempts by Richmond on the night, but Forbes defended Altoona catcher Tony Sanchez after the game.
"Our pitchers have to be quicker to the plate," Forbes said. "The bottom line is that Tony is getting the ball out, and his times are good to second base. It's just a matter of we have to do a better job of getting it to the plate."
McSwain relieved Foster and allowed five earned runs on eight hits in just 1 1/3 innings.
The 22 hits by Richmond broke a record that had been set five times by Curve opponents of 20 hits. New Britain was the last team to pull off the feat, collecting 20 hits against the Curve on June 15 last year.
The pitching woes overshadowed a big night from Santos, who went 4-for-5, drove in four runs and scored two more to raise his average with Altoona to .464. Santos had a pair of doubles, each of which landed on the warning track.
"[Santos] is swinging the bat really well," Forbes said. "He has a lot of confidence, and [hitting coach] Ryan Long has done a wonderful job with him, starting last year in Bradenton. We'll keep giving him opportunities, and hopefully he continues [to come through]."
Key player: Juan Perez reached base six times for Richmond, smacking four singles and a double. Perez scored four runs, had an RBI, stole two bases and drew a walk.
Key play: Pinch runner Jose Flores stole second with two outs in the eighth inning and scored on Daniel Mayora's single to tie the game and start the six-run inning.
Key stat: Richmond had 22 hits.
How they scored
Bottom 1st: Robbie Grossman walked, scored on Adalberto Santos double. Santos scored on Tony Sanchez single. (2-0).
Top 2nd: Daniel Mayora doubled. Juan Perez singled. Mayora scored on Justin Fitzgerald single. Perez scored on Gary Brown sacrifice fly. (2-2).
Top 3rd: Tommy Joseph homered. Mayora, Perez and Ehire Adrianza singled. Mayora scored on Eliezer Zambrano single. Perez scored when Brown was hit by a pitch. Adrianza scored when Ryan Cavan drew walk. (2-6).
Bottom 4th: Matt Curry doubled, scored on Quincy Latimore single. (3-6).
Bottom 5th: Grossman walked, scored on Santos double. Santos scored on Sanchez single. (5-6).
Bottom 6th: Kelson Brown singled, and Zach Foster reached on a fielder's choice. Both scored on Santos' single. (7-6).
Top 8th: Joseph singled, scored on Mayora's single. Mayora scored on Perez double. Adrianza walked. Perez scored on Zambrano single. Adrianza scored on Brett Bochy single. Zambrano and Bochy scored on Brown triple. (7-12).
Top 9th: Mayora reached on fielder's choice, scored on Adrianza single. Perez singled, scored on Zambrano single. Adrianza scored on Wes Hodges single. (7-15).