PITTSBURGH (AP) — Not even a four-run lead is enough to save the Toronto Blue Jays from their bullpen woes.
Aaron Loup gave up three runs in the seventh inning and Todd Redmond served up the game-winning hit in the eighth as Toronto lost 8-6 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.
One day after losing a 5-3, ninth-inning lead in a 6-5 loss, Toronto led 5-0 in the fourth and 6-2 in the seventh.
"We're a little bit shell-shocked right now," manager John Gibbons said.
Loup relieved R.A. Dickey after Clint Barmes' leadoff double in the seventh, and the Pirates tied the score on Josh Harrison's RBI double, Pedro Alvarez's run-scoring groundout and pinch-hitter Jordy Mercer's two-run double.
One inning later, Ike Davis reached on a one-out infield single against Redmond (0-3), Harrison singled and Neil Walker hit a drive off the top of the wall in center field, scoring two runs to propel the Pirates to victory. The Pirates could have boosted their lead, but Starling Marte lined out to first against Chad Jenkins with the bases loaded.
"It's tough because it can really spiral on you," Dickey said. "That here-we-go-again syndrome can start to set in if you're not careful."
Before the game Saturday, Gibbons removed Sergio Santos from his role as interim closer after he blew three of his past four save opportunities. He said Toronto will use a closer-by-committee approach until Casey Janssen (oblique) returns from the disabled list. But Gibbons said Loup would feature prominently in that mix.
With Davis, a lefty, at the plate after Barmes' double, Gibbons turned to Loup for the favorable matchup.
"We hoped to get two innings out of him and see where we were at in the ninth inning if we still had the lead," Gibbons said.
Even if Loup gave up a couple of runs, Gibbons said, Toronto would be in good shape to finish the game.
"You don't expect him to implode like that," he said.
Bryan Morris (3-0) pitched a perfect eighth, and Mark Melancon earned his first save of the season in place of injured closer Jason Grilli, retiring Colby Ramus on a game-ending groundout with two on.
Pittsburgh, which overcame four errors, won consecutive games for the first time since beating St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs on April 6 and 8.