For seven innings, Snell held the Dodgers at bay, giving up only five hits and two runs, but Salomon Torres wasn't able to close it out, leaving Snell at 1-1, despite a 2.00 ERA, as the Pirates lost, 7-3, in 10 innings to the host Dodgers.
"We got another tremendous start from Ian Snell," manager Jim Tracy said, "You can't do it any better than that."
Unfortunately for Snell this season, the way the Pirates' bats have been feeling, he has to do better if he wants to get into the win column. In four games, Snell has given up two runs, one run, one run and Saturday night's two, yet even the one victory was in doubt until the last out.
The fact that Snell had a lead at all was fortuitous because the Pirates bats spent another night asleep, with the Dodgers doing as much to help get Pittsburgh on the board as the Pirates did themselves.
The Pirates gave Snell a one-run lead before he even took the mound, when Chris Duffy led off the game with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and continued on to third when Dodgers catcher Russell Martin's throw hit him and rolled into the outfield. Duffy then came around to score when Jack Wilson grounded out to second.
In the third, Snell started the offense himself by walking to lead off. Advancing to second on Wilson's single, both runners moved up when Freddy Sanchez grounded out, and after Jason Bay walked to load the bases, Dodgers starter Brad Penny also walked the struggling Adam LaRoche to put the Bucs on top. Penny then unleashed a wild pitch to allow Wilson to score and that was the extent of the Pittsburgh offense.
"We scored on a groundout, a walk and a wild pitch," Tracy said, "and Ian was good enough tonight that we almost won with that."
The only trouble Snell had was in the bottom of the first when Nomar Garciaparra doubled and Jeff Kent brought him around with a single, and in the sixth inning, when Luis Gonzalez led off with a double and came home on Andre Ethier's sacrifice fly. Other than that, he was in complete command.
"On a night when we needed a good performance to give us a chance to win, he gave us seven great innings," Tracy observed.
Matt Capps replaced Snell (102 pitches) in the eighth, with the Pirates ahead 3-2. After doing his job, Capps handed the ball to Salomon Torres, who was unable to close the door, despite not allowing the Dodgers to get a ball out of the infield.
Ethier led off with a walk, and when Wilson Valdez tried to bunt him to second, third baseman Jose Bautista made a great play to get Either. Three pitches later, Torres unleashed a wild pitch, and when catcher Ronny Paulino tried to get Valdez at second, he threw it into center field, sending Valdez to third. Three pitchers after that, Paulino saw a pitch pass through his legs, allowing the tying run home.
Jonah Bayliss (1-1) allowed two hits in the 10th, and Damaso Marte relieved and walked a batter, setting the stage for Martin against Shawn Chacon. Martin responded with a grand slam to win it.
Snell himself was obviously upset with how things turned out, and combined with the missed opportunities earlier this season, they seemed to have gotten to him Saturday night.
"I'm disappointed. It's frustrating," he said softly, adding, "I thought I pitched good.".
Other that that, Snell wasn't in much of a mood to analyze either his performance or that of the team.
"I really don't know what to say," he repeated.
That was pretty much the feeling of all the Pirates, as they looked to regroup, remembering that the season is still young.
As disappointing as Saturday's game was, it's important to remember that this is still a young and developing team, especially the pitching staff, which now seems to be securely anchored by Snell.
"He's a special kid and he's becoming a very special pitcher," reiterated Tracy.
Pirates outfielder Xavier Nady left the game after grounding out in the sixth inning with what is being described as a left hamstring strain. According to team officials, he is day-to-day.
Glenn Rabney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.