For the first time all season, UCLA has lost consecutive games and a series. After losing the series opener to Oregon, 5-4, the Bruins dropped the second game of the series on Saturday, 8-4. Once again, the usually stout starting pitching of the Bruins was nowhere to be found and the Ducks repeatedly put the ball in play to find holes in the UCLA defense. The Bruins did not play their worst, but they were nowhere near their best and when an opposing team executes and pressures you to be your best, it's not a good combination.
Trevor Bauer, who entered the game with a sub-2.00 ERA, struggled from the onset. He managed to make it through seven innings, but he allowed eight runs (six earned) on 12 hits to take his second loss of the season. He was relieved by Matt Drummond and Brandon Lodge, two pitchers who have been used sparingly this season, but each threw a scoreless inning.
In the game's first six innings, the UCLA offense managed just two hits and even when they got things going late, it amounted to very little. Cody Keefer was far and away the top Bruin at the plate with a 2-3 effort and three RBI. Beau Amaral added the Bruins' other RBI and Dean Espy scored twice to lead the men in white.
After falling behind early in Friday's contest, the Bruins were looking to get out of first inning unscathed. Bauer almost made it out of the first, retiring the first two batters, but a home run followed and once again, UCLA trailed early.
The second inning got going like the first when Bauer retired the first two batters and he should have been out of the inning, but an error by Justin Uribe let the inning continue. Just as is always seems to be the case when you give a team a fourth out, Oregon made UCLA pay. After a single put two men on, a triple brought home two unearned runs to put the Ducks ahead, 3-0.
It took until the fifth inning, but UCLA finally scored. Espy got things going with a bunt single and an error on the play allowed him to take second. A sacrifice bunt moved him to third and Keefer's sacrifice fly scored him.
With the Oregon lead just 3-1, the pressure was on the Ducks to grab momentum back and did they ever do so. The next half inning, Bauer allowed five hits, threw a wild pitch and balked as the Ducks scored four times to put the game away.
The Ducks added another run in the seventh and while the Bruins did their best to answer, their two lonely runs were not near enough to make things difficult on Oregon.
At 26-5 on the season and a mere 4-4 in the Pac-10, UCLA needs each and every game. The goal of a series win is out the window, but even Sunday's singular game could have some bearing on the Bruins' Pac-10 and Regional standing. UCLA will finish of their series against Oregon at noon PDT with Rob Rasmussen (5-0, 2.89 ERA) on the hill.