Curve blow game in 9th

ERIE – The Curve might have invented a new way to lose Saturday night in dropping their fifth straight game.

A victory slipped away in one second, then in the blink of an eye it turned into a loss.

Erie beat Altoona on a routine grounder to third base in the bottom of the ninth, scoring two runs for a 4-3 win at Jerry Uht Park.

The Curve led, 3-2, entering the ninth after a two-out RBI double in the eighth by Charlie Cutler. Erie then loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Jeff Inman, then came the bizarre ending.

On a 3-2 pitch with all runners breaking because there were two outs, Eugenio Suarez hit a groundball to third base. Adalberto Santos fielded the ball, and instead of throwing to first base, he went the short route to second trying to get the forceout to end the game.

The trouble with that decision was Erie’s Corey Jones, a speedy runner, got a big jump off first base on the 3-2 pitch. He was able to reach second safely ahead of the throw by Santos, who is playing third base for the first time in his career this season.

The safe call at second allowed Wade Gaynor to come home from third base to tie the game.

On the other end of the play, Curve second baseman Jarek Cunningham got tangled up with Jones at second base as he took the throw. That provided an opening for Jamie Johnson, who got a running jump off second base and kept chugging all the way home with the winning run to stun the Curve.

Inman (1-1) took the loss in relief. He gave up two singles and a walk in the ninth to load the bases before the tough-luck ending. Erie’s Michael Morris (2-1) won in relief.

Stolmy Pimentel started for the Curve, bringing a 0.30 ERA into the game, which ranked second in all of pro ball. Pimentel gave up two solo homers – to Daniel Fields in the first and Tyler Collins in the sixth – and departed after six innings.

Pimentel allowed the two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks. His ERA rose to 0.74, which still leads the Eastern League.

Andrew Lambo belted a two-run homer in the third to give the Curve a 2-1 lead. Collins’ blast in the sixth pulled Erie even.

Cutler put the Curve in position to win in the eighth with his RBI double for a 3-2 lead. Cunningham drew a two-out walk, then Cutler delivered another big late-inning hit with a double to right-center.

Santos went 3-for-5 to account for more than half of the Curve’s five hits, and he’s now batting .375.

Game recap

Key player: C Charlie Cutler had a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth inning that would have won the game for the Curve if not for a fluke play in the ninth.

Key play: Erie scored the tying and winning runs in the ninth on an infield grounder as Curve 3B Adalberto Santos was unable to get a forceout at second.

Key stat: RHP Stolmy Pimentel had allowed just one run in 301/3 innings before giving up two solo homers.

How they scored

Bottom 1st: Fields solo home run (0-1).

Top 3rd: Santos doubled, scored on Lambo two-run homer (2-1).

Bottom 6th: Collins solo honer (2-2).

Top 8th: Cunningham walked, scored on Cutler double (3-2).

Bottom 9th: Gaynor singled, Johnson singled, both scored on Suarez grounder to third that was ruled a single (3-4).