There is a trend emerging at Smith's Ballpark — one the home team would like to see end.
Behind the pitching of starter Justin Thomas, Salt Lake went into the eighth inning with a two-run lead. That wasn't close to being enough, as Las Vegas knocked around the Bees bullpen for six runs in the final two stanzas to win 6-2 Saturday night.
"Yes, it has (been a trend)," Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson said of the late collapses. "It's extremely frustrating."
In the first inning, Bees right fielder Brennan Boesch sent a two-run shot to deep center field and for most of the night, it looked like that is all Salt Lake would need.
Thomas pitched 6.2 innings of shutout baseball as he regularly was able to get the Vegas bats whiffing on pitches or harmlessly grounding out. In the seventh, though, the lefty ran into some trouble.
After striking out the first two batters of the inning, Thomas gave up a double to Josh Satin and proceeded to walk back-to-back 51 hitters. With the bases loaded, Johnson elected to end Thomas' night calling and give the ball to his bullpen.
Dustin Richardson came in and got Vegas center fielder Matt den Dekker to ground out to close the book on Thomas. The left-hander finished the outing, giving up only four hits without surrendering a run.
"(Thomas) competed his behind off out there and left himself in a position to get a win — again, but we just weren't able to do it — again," Johnson said.
Richardson's success in the seventh was nothing more than a mirage in the eighth as the Bees bullpen once again failed to close out the game.
In the top of the eighth, Bees reliever Kyler Newby gave up a three-run shot to the 51's first baseman Andrew Brown to put Vegas on the board and into the lead at 3-2. Las Vegas made sure that there would be no comeback, plating another three in the ninth and winning 6-2.
The Bees conclude their series with Las Vegas Sunday at 1:05 p.m.