ALLENTOWN - One of the reasons the Lehigh Valley IronPigs raced out to a 40-23 record has been the bullpen. If there was a picture of perfection for Lehigh Valley, it would have been with the colors of the bullpen.
Monday night the colors muddled together to form the darkness of a blown victory as the Louisville Bats belted the IronPigs 8-7 in the third game of this four games series.
Going into last night the IronPigs were a flawless 34-0 when leading after the seventh inning. As Delmon Young broke a 3-3 tie with his seventh inning solo homer and Erik Kratz's RBI single to drive in an insurance run, the 9,449 fans at Coca Cola Park had good reason to think the IronPigs would win again.
The perfection came to an end. In the top of the eighth, reliever Juan Perez fell victim to a couple of seeing eye singles and a blast to Louisville's Juan Francisco to give them a 6-5 lead.
Six hits later, four off Mike Zagurski, Louisville tacked on two more runs and went into the bottom of the ninth with a commanding 8-5 lead.
"A couple bloops and a ball hit hard, then a couple more bloops and a ball hit hard and they came back and took [the game] from us," Sandberg said.
The IronPigs scored three runs off Bat starter Tom Cochron and it should have been more. Despite 14 hits, Lehigh Valley left 12 runners on base including nine in scoring position.
"A ground out to the middle infield or a sacrifice fly and we'll take two more runs," Sandberg said. "[Cochran] was a pretty good left handed pitcher that changed speeds. He got the better of those situations in getting those outs."
Down three runs in the ninth inning, Young led off with a single and scored on a double by catcher Erik Kratz (3-for-3, 3RBI, 2 walks). Brian Bocock singled in Kratz to cut the lead 8-7. Bat reliever Chris Mobley got pinch-hitter John Suomi to ground out for the second out.
With Bocock at second, Pete Orr drove a pitch to the deep left center gap, but speedy centerfielder Dave Sappelt ran it down for the final out.
"In the end, I like the way they battled back on two different occasions, they took the lead by two and then made it close at the end," Sandberg said.
Vance Worley, who is rumored to be pitching for the Phillies on Saturday, put together a solid outing through four innings, but lead-off doubles in the fifth and sixth innings eliminated a 3-0 IronPig lead.
Sandberg was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing Bocock's double play attempt that resulted in a throwing error. While throwing to first, Bocock's arm hit the helmet of Zack Cozart who did not slide. The ball went into the stands and the batter, Sappelt, was awarded second on the error.
"The umpire said that [contact] is alright. That's news to me," said Sandberg.