Bullpen blows lead for Curve

ERIE – The Curve bullpen imploded once again Monday afternoon, continuing a season-long trend that has basically killed the club’s chances of sustaining any level of success.

Altoona gave away a late-inning lead for the third straight game, losing when Erie scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 victory at Jerry Uht Park. The Curve bullpen blew a save for the third straight day, and now the club has 10 blown saves, compared to only eight conversions.

It doesn’t matter how well a team plays for most of the day if the guys at the back end of the bullpen don’t do their job, and that has been the Curve’s biggest issue this season.

The team once again has matched its season high at 10 games below .500. Had they held on to win the past three games, the Curve instead would be 23-27 with six consecutive victories.

Just to show how odd the blown save statistic is, the fact that it went to lefty Jhonathan Ramos on Monday is the definition of unfair.

Emmanuel De Leon came on for the Curve in the eighth inning and was able to get through one frame protecting a 3-2 lead. But De Leon fell apart in the ninth.

The reliever gave up a leadoff single to Steven Moya and another to Aaron Westlake to put runners at the corners with no outs. He then walked Dean Green to load the bases.

De Leon, for all intents and purposes, blew the save.

Curve manager Carlos Garcia called upon Ramos to try and get out of the toughest possible situation, a bases-loaded, no-out jam with a slim one-run lead on the road. Ramos couldn’t do it as he hit Corey Jones to force in Moya with the tying run.

The next batter popped out on the infield, then Jamie Johnson lifted a sacrifice fly to left that scored Westlake to win the game.

De Leon (0-1) did suffer the loss, while Kenny Faulk (1-2) won in relief for Erie.

The late-inning collapse by the Curve wasted a strong outing from Nick Kingham, who allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings. (See Covering the bases for more on the scenario surrounding Kingham’s departure.)

Alen Hanson had given the Curve a chance to win with a solo homer in the sixth inning for a 3-2 lead. Altoona had trailed 2-0 before rallying with two runs in the fifth.

Game recap

Key player: RF Steven Moya went 3-for-4 with a homer and scored the tying run in the ninth.

Key play: Moya and 1B Aaron Westlake opened the ninth with singles to put runners at first and third to give Erie a golden opportunity in its final at-bat.

Key stat: The Curve have blown 10 saves while converting only eight, and they’ve blown a save each of the past three days.

How they scored

Bottom 2nd: Moya solo homer (0-1).

Bottom 3rd: Jones solo homer (0-2).

Top 5th: Howard doubled, scored on Diaz single (1-2); Diaz scored on Jones error (2-2).

Top 6th: Hanson solo homer (3-2).

Bottom 9th: Moya singled, scored on Jones hit by pitch with bases loaded (3-3); Westlake singled, scored on Johnson sacrifice fly (3-4).