Bullpen falters in ninth; 51s lose in 11th

The 51s trusted their bullpen with a one-run lead, and their trust wasn’t rewarded.

Charles Thomas’ two-out RBI single in the ninth inning tied the game at 3, then the Sacramento River Cats pulled out a 6-3 victory in the 11th at Cashman Field on Tuesday.

Kevin Melillo’s bases-loaded single off Tim Hamulack (0-1) in the 11th broke the tie, and Hiram Bocachica tacked on a two-run single.

The 51s (11-12) wasted a solid start by Joe Mays, the longest of any Las Vegas pitcher this season. He went 7 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on seven hits, struck out six and walked one.

Mays departed with a 3-2 lead, but Eric Hull blew the save. In the Sacramento ninth, Lou Merloni singled, pinch runner Lloyd Turner took second on Hull’s wild pitch and scored on Thomas’ two-out single to center field.

“We were one strike away from getting the win,” 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “This is the time of year when we’re going to find out a little about this club as far as character. You can either lay down and feel sorry for yourself or bust your butt and do something positive the next day.”

The 51s had a chance to win the game in the ninth, putting runners on first and second with one out, but James Loney hit into a double play.

In the 11th, Sacramento (16-8) loaded the bases with a single, a hit batter, a throwing error by Hamulack and an intentional walk. One out later, Melillo singled for his third hit of the game.

The bases were still loaded when Bocachica added two insurance runs.

“Bocachica’s been in the big leagues and he’s a veteran guy, and he’s going to give you a good plate appearance most of the time,” Bundy said. “But it’s not like it’s any other top three hitters in this league. If we execute our pitches we can get them out.

Melillo got the River Cats on the board early, hitting Mays’ second pitch of the game over the left field fence. Otherwise, Mays was strong, throwing 104 pitches and 66 for strikes.

“He took us into the eighth inning, made some quality pitches and was pretty much in command for the whole game,” Bundy said.

The 51s scored two runs in the second inning on a sacrifice flies by Mitch Jones and Tomas Perez. They went ahead 3-2 in the fifth on Delwyn Young’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice.

Reliever Connor Robertson (3-0) was the winner for Sacramento and Jeffrey Gray earned his first save.

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