In the midst of an overpowering, precision display by San Francisco and Montreal pitchers, Robb Nen lost control of one throw. It turned the course of the game.
Nen was one out from teaming up with Shawn Estes on a shutout when he threw a wild pitch that allowed Montreal to tie it, and Brad Fullmer hit a leadoff homer in the 12th as the Expos rallied past the San Francisco Giants 2-1 Tuesday.
"I take a lot of the blame for what I do," said a subdued Nen, who blew a save for the eighth time in 35 opportunities. "I haven't pitched well. I should have done my job. I made a mistake pitch and I lost it. It's been a tough day and a tough season. Hopefully, it will change."
Pitchers from both teams were dominant, combining for 29 strikeouts, including a rare four-strikeout effort in the seventh by Montreal reliever Steve Kline.
"Sometimes, guys have days where they have good stuff and you get guys to swing and miss," said Smith. "The guys out of the bullpen were aggressive and they went out and went at guys."
Montreal had 15 strikeouts, while San Francisco had 14. The Giants, denied in their bid for consecutive wins for the first time since July 26-27, fanned 12 times in the last six innings. It was San Francisco's 22nd loss in 32 games.
"It's heartbreaking, to have it happen with two outs in the top of the ninth. Oh boy," San Francisco manager Dusty Baker said. "There are no answers. You've just got to keep plugging and keep fighting. Thats all you can do. We're past hurting at this point."
Fullmer, who entered the game in bottom of the ninth as a defensive replacement at first base, connected for his eighth homer in his first at-bat, driving John Johnstone's (4-6) first pitch in the 12th over the right-field fence.
"Especially coming in late and and sitting for nine innings, I wanted to go out and try to be aggressive," Fullmer said. "I didn't want to fall behind."
Johnstone started Fullmer off with a breaking pitch, but Fullmer was ready for it.
"I was just trying to stay on the ball and get his release point early," Fullmer said.
Said Johnstone: "It was a first pitch curveball. I'd throw that pitch 100 times to him."
Estes, who struck out nine and walked two, took a seven-hit shutout into the ninth. He retired Mike Mordecai on fly ball to center, but pinch-hitter Chris Widger doubled and Baker pulled Estes in favor of Nen.
Pinch-hitter Orlando Merced then grounded out to second, advancing Widger. Nen then threw a wild pitch on his first throw to Rondell White. The ball bounced in front of home plate and shot past catcher Brent Mayne, allowing Widger to score.
"It was a slider I was trying to keep down. I just held onto it too long," Nen said. "I'm embarrassed. Usually, it's my best pitch but it backfired on me."
Dustin Hermanson allowed six hits in six innings, but wound up with his ninth no-decision.
Vladimir Guerrero extended his club-record hitting streak to 23 games with a single in the eighth.
Kline, the first Expos pitcher to strike out four in an inning, relieved to start the seventh. He struck out Mayne and Estes, but the pitcher reached on a wild pitch. Kline then got Marvin Benard swinging and caught Ramon Martinez looking for the inning's final out.
It was the 36th time in major league history that a pitcher had a four-strikeout inning but the sixth this season, including two by Anaheim pitcher Chuck Finley.
Kline ran the string to six straight strikeouts, fanning Barry Bonds and J.T. now in the bottom of the eighth before F.P. Santangelo doubled down the third-base line. Santangelo was the last batter Kline faced as Anthony Telford came on in relief.
The Giants scored in the first when Benard doubled and Bonds singled.
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