Winning and Losing Pitcher

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Rules for determining winning and losing pitcher are covered in section 10.17 of the scoring rules.

Winning Pitcher

When a pitcher throws a complete game and his team wins, he is obviously the winning pitcher.  If he leaves after 7 innings with a big lead that his team holds on to, it is also easy to tell he is the winning pitcher.  But there are many situations where it’s not clear on who the winning pitcher is.  I will cover these points below.

Starting Pitcher

If the pitcher was the starter, he can get credit for the win if the following conditions are met:

1. He pitches at least 5 innings (*).  (This is why often when pitchers start to struggle in the 5th, their managers are reluctant to pull them if they are winning and try to squeeze another out or two out of them.  Managerial decisions should never be based on impact to a player’s stats, but I’ll rant about that later – probably moreso in relation to the save rule).

2. His team assumes the lead while he is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which he is removed from the game.  (e.g., he pitches 6 innings with the score tied, and his team scores in the top of the 7th, and a new pitcher comes in for the bottom of the 7th).

3. His team never relinquishes the lead.

4. And finally, his team wins the game. (Well, you knew that already)

Sort of straight-forward rules, and easy to apply.  Not necessarily fair, and it does not matter how effective he is.  If he pitches 5 innings at pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium, and leaves leading 10-9, and a relief pitcher comes in and shuts down the scoring, and the team wins 15-9, the starter gets the full credit for the win.  Conversely, if he pitches 9 innings and it’s a scoreless game, at home run friendly Coors field, that his team wins in the 12th inning he gets all of a “no-decision” for his efforts.

(*) 5 innings is the standard for games that are 6 innings or longer;  only 4 innings need to be pitched in games that last 5 innings.  This may apply to a rain shortened game in the MLB, or more commonly at youth levels where “mercy” rules are applicable.

Relief Pitcher

If the starter does not get the win, because he did not meet one or more of the above conditions (say, he left with his team trailing, or only pitched a couple of innings), and his team wins, than the win has to be given to one of the relief pitchers.

The relief pitcher who gets the win is the one who was pitching while his team took the lead, which it doesn’t relinquish.

Again, this sounds straight enough, but there are a couple of important exceptions.

1 – If the starter left with the lead, but can’t get the win because he didn’t pitch enough innings, then it’s the reliever who was deemed to be the most effective that gets credit for the win.   There are no hard and fast rules to determine this.

2 – If the reliever who should get the win based on the above rules was “ineffective in a brief appearance”, then the scorer has the right to award the win to the most effective subsequent relief pitcher.  An example of this is  in a situation where a reliever is called in to get the last out of the inning but gives up a few runs and the lead while finishing the inning. In the next half inning, the offense regains the lead, and then a new pitcher comes in.  The first reliever met the condition for being the pitcher of record while his team took the lead, but can (and should) be denied the win based on this rule.

Losing Pitcher

Determining the losing pitcher is much easier.  The pitcher who gave up the run that gives the opponent a lead they never relinquish is the losing pitcher.

Note that if a pitcher gives up 1 run and pitches 7 innings, and a subsequent pitcher gives up 10 more runs, and then the team comes back to only lose 11-10, the pitcher who gave up the first run is still  the losing pitcher, as he left trailing, and his team never  caught up.   Conversely, if a pitcher gives up 10 runs, and leaves trailing 10-0, but his team comes back to tie, and lose later, then he does not get the loss, as another pitcher gave the opponent the lead they never relinquished.

  1. Why would KERSHAW LAD get a win 2 Sept 2013 against Colorado? He pitched 5 innings, left when tied. Colorado scored 3 runs in 6 th, but LAD fought back to regain lead, after second reliever….

  2. Kershaw was given the win to make up for all the times he pitched 7 or 8 scoreless innings and did not get the win due to his teammates lack of support 🙂

    No, actually, he did deserve credit for a win. I think you are confused with the game recap. It was LA that scored 3 runs in the 6th, not the Rockies.

    Kershaw did meet all 4 conditions for a starter to get a win as explained in the article above.
    #1- he pitched 5 innings
    #2- his team assumed the lead during the inning on offense in which he was removed (LA took the lead in the top of the 6th. Even though Kershaw only pitched 5, he was still the pitcher of record, until a new pitcher took the mound in the bottom of the 6th)
    #3 – his team never relinquished the lead. (It was 5-5 after 5, but LA scored 3 times in the 6th, so officially Kershaw left with an 8-5 lead. Rockies scored a couple later to make it 8-7, but they never caught up as LA scored again to mkae it 10-7 and then it ended 10-8).
    #4 – Dodgers won

  3. If a starting pitcher who pitches in the top of innings completes 5 innings & the game is tied does he get the win if his team goes ahead in the bottom of the 5th? Assuming his team completes the win without losing the lead any time after the fifth inning? I am watching the 9/4 Red Sox/Tigers game & that situation was a possibility and it just had me curious. Dempster came back in the game in the top of the 6th but the question remains. Email me an answer if you can. Thank you.
    Mike Peroney(R.Sox nut)

  4. Yes. At the start of the 6th inning when a new pitcher would have come into the game, the Sox were winning 5-4. Therefore the starting pitcher would get the win, assuming they held on to their lead (which they did quite nicely tonight!).

    A pitcher can even get the win if he leaves the game while trailing, as long as his team takes a lead before the next pitcher comes in. The way to think of it, is that a pitcher gets credit for everything that happens UNTIL a new pitcher comes into the game. That’s how scrub relief pitchers sometimes get wins. They come in to the game in the top of the 8th inning with their team losing by 3 runs, the team rallies in the bottom and scores 4 runs, and the closer pitches the 9th. This is part of the reason why wins are an awful stat to evaluate a pitcher

  5. If the pitcher came out after pitching 5 complete innings, ie pinch hit for in the 6th, and the game is tied, his team would have to score first and maintain the lead to get the win. So the scoring can see-saw, but the lead must be maintained.

  6. Michael Osborne

    So why would Workman be the losing pitcher in Game 3 of the World Series. The Obstruction game. Uehera is the pitcher who put Craig on base and he scored the winning run

  7. That is a good observation. Actually, the pitcher isn’t responsible for the runner that he let on base, but by the NUMBER of runners he let on base. For example: Leadoff batter gets on base, the pitcher is replaced, and the next batter hits into a fielder’s choice. This 2nd batter then comes around to score the winning run. It’s the first pitcher that is charged with that run (and the loss), even though it was the second pitcher that let that batter get on base. The logic is that if the first batter wasn’t on base, that 2nd batter would have been out at first, instead of the fielder’s choice getting the runner at second. Last night’s game was slightly different as Molina wasn’t out on a fielder’s choice, but regardless the logic is that if he wasn’t on base, Craig wouldn’t have scored. The specific wording for the rule is in 10.16(g) which can be seen on this page

  8. I understand the pitcher is responsible for the number of men he has on base when is leave the game mid-inning – but how about this:

    Scored Tired Bottom of the ninth

    1st pitcher gives up a single


    2nd pitcher gives up a single

    Runners First and Second

    Runner on second gets picked-off.

    Next batter gets a triple to knock in runner at first and win game

    Doesn’t the second pitcher get the loss since the first runner was out and off the bases (without a FC) and thus takes the first pitcher off the hook?

  9. Yes, you are correct. Part of the scoring rule I linked to above says

    “…such pitcher shall be charged with all runs subsequently scored up to and including the number of runners such pitcher left on base when such pitcher left the game,UNLESS SUCH RUNNERS ARE PUT OUT WITHOUT ACTION BY THE BATTER”

    (capitalized emphasis mine)
    So, yes, the pick off eliminates any responsibility from the first pitcher.

  10. Bill singleton

    Why did Workman get the loss in sat’s game?

    • Sorry for delay. I missed this question previously. You charge the run (and therefore the loss) to the pitcher who let the winning run on base. Workman let a baserunner (Molina) on who was put out. Even though it was Koji who let on Allen who ended up scoring, the run is charged to Workman due to the comment after rule 10.16(g):
      Rule 10.16(g) Comment: It is the intent of Rule 10.16(g) to charge each pitcher with the number of runners he put on base, rather than with the individual runners. When a pitcher puts runners on base and is relieved, such pitcher shall be charged with all runs subsequently scored up to and including the number of runners such pitcher left on base when such pitcher left the game, unless such runners are put out without action by the batter

  11. Pedro febles

    Scre was 4-0 in favor of the visiting team after two outs nobody on .The home team put one man on (catcher dropped a fly ball in fair territory) next a single , a home run, a home run. TIE SCORE the starting pitcher is replaced Relief pitcher get the third out . In the top of the 3rd visitors score 9 runs. Relief pitched next two innings visitors won 14-5. WHO GET THE WIN Started no allowed any ern runs. The game only last 5 innings Starting pitcher 2 2/3. Relief 2 1/3

    • Relief pitcher. A starter needs to pitch at least 5 innings (or 4 if games only lasts 5) to be eligible for win.

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  12. Starting pitcher in a 7-inning scheduled HS game lasts 3 2/3. Reliever comes in and finishes the game, which ends in the bottom of the 6th via the 10-run rule. Does the reliever get the win since the starter didn’t last 4?

  13. Situation – pitcher starts game, two men get on base. He comes out of the game after getting 1 out because of injury. Reliever gets spanked. Eventually a parade of pitchers can’t stop the bleeding and the loss is 16-1. The two runners the first pitcher was responsible for scored. I gave the starter the loss even though he was only in for 1/3 of an inning.

    If the score had been 16-10 but we never took the lead, the first pitcher would have gotten the loss, correct?

    If we had taken the lead but eventually lost, the loss would have been on the pitcher of record at the time the other team took the lead.


  14. In last night’s game that Jeter won with a walk-off single, Hiroki Kuroda left with a 5-2 lead. Robertson blew the save before Jeter won the game in the bottom of the 9th. Could the official scorer award Kuroda the win — and not give it to Robertson because of his “ineffectivness”?

    • No. The scorer has no choice in this particular situation. If a reliever was ineffective, but was the pitcher of record when his team took the lead, the scorer CAN give the win to a different pitcher… but it has to be to a subsequent relief pitcher. He cannot give it to a pitcher who pitched prior to the team getting the lead which it did not relinquish.
      This is another reason why W/L records are an awful way to judge a pitcher’s effecitveness – specially a reliever.

  15. What happens if a pinch hitter is in the pitcher’s spot when the ultimate go-ahead run is scored? ie It is the National League.

    Does the pinch hitter get the win, even though he doesn’t pitch? (This sounds too bizarre, and unjust, to be correct). Or does the last pitcher, the pitcher the pinch hitter came in for, get the win? (This sounds much more likely).

  16. Why Does Bumgarner get credit for the win in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series? The Giants took the lead in the top of the 4th and Affeldt who pitched from the middle of the 2nd inning through the end of the 4th should have been credited the win according to the way I read the scoring rules. He was not “ineffective” so why would he not get the win unless you buy into the hype that Bumgarner is all time “king” of pitchers all time?

  17. In game 7 of 2014 World Series why didn’t Affelder get the win. He was the relief pitcher when Giants got the lead.
    Bumgarner obviously historic performance is sentimental favorite to get the win. But what is the rule that gives him the win?

    • There isn’t one. MLB has fixed the scoring of it, and given Affledt the win, and Bumgarner the save. I talk about it here You are correct. A couple of hours after the game, MLB corrected the scoring. I ranted about it in the meantime here

      • I am trying to make sure I understand this rule. If Affledt entered the game with the Giants already up 3-2 (i.e. the starter left the game with the lead that was never relinquished but pitched less than 5 innings), would that have given the official scorer the discretion to credit Bumgarner with the win as the “more effective” reliever?

      • Yes exactly. Covered in the article above “If the starter left with the lead, but can’t get the win because he didn’t pitch enough innings, then it’s the reliever who was deemed to be the most effective that gets credit for the win. “

  18. Daryl Jay Frank

    So, if a home town pitcher has a lead, hurts his arm with two strikes on leadoff batter, is removed for a reliever who throws one pitch, strikes out leadoff batter and is subsequently removed also, would he actually get credit for a win?

  19. Bumgarber got credit for the save. I presume had he given up a run in the ninth that would have been a blown save. What if he gave up a run earlier than the ninth – e.g. the sixth, seventh or eighth? Is that also considered a blown save? I thought I knew most of the rules. I like when these issues come up to get me thinking.

    • Bill, indeed Bumgarner would have been charged with a BS had he given up a run or more at anytime during his stint (look back at daily boxscores you’ll see BS’s for middle relievers).
      Of course, had Bumganer given up 3 runs in the 5th but finished the inning, and the Giants had then scored 3 runs in the sixth, and a new pitcher Giants come in the 6th, THEN the scorers could have applied 10.17(c) and given the win to the most effective subsequent reliever, since Bumgarner’s outing could be considered ineffective and brief (although “brief” is defined as LESS that an inning pitched)

      • Yes, anytime a pitcher is in a potential “save” situation, he will get a blown save if he surrenders the lead. This happens even when everybody knows that the pitcher is not going to stick around for the save (e.g., a LOOGY who comes in specifically to face 1 batter in the 6th inning). Because he COULD have gone on to finish the game, he gets charged with a blown save.

  20. Who gets the win if 9 pitchers each throw 1 inning?

    • It depends. By rule it CANNOT be the starting pitcher (he needs to pitch 5). It will usually be whoever had pitched last when his team took the lead it doesn’t relinquish (e.g., if the team takes the lead in the bottom of the 3rd, whoever pitched in the top of the 3rd would get the win). But it’s tricky if they were winning when the starter left the game. Then it goes to the relief pitcher who was “most effective” (look at rule 10.17(b) on the Scoring Rules page).

  21. Starting pitcher (HS) goes three complete and score is 5-1 home team. Coach uses four (4) more pitchers at one inning each. Game ends with score 5-1. Who (shouldn’t the “starter”) gets the win?

    • Can’t be the starter because of the “must pitch 5 innings” rule. Therefore it is “the reliever who was deemed to be the most effective”. If all relievers were equally effective, I would be tempted to give it to the first one who came into the game. Unfortunately, there are no clear guidelines in this case other than a scorer’s judgement on who was “most effective”.

  22. Bill Behrendt

    Is it possible for a finished game not to have a winning or losing pitcher of record? For instance: it’s the bottom of the 9th inning and the score is 0 – 0. The pitcher strikes out the batter, but the ball gets past the catcher and the batter gets on first base. During the next batter, the runner on first tries to steal second base, and the catchers throw to second base sails out into center field. The runner gets up and heads for third, and the throw from the centerfielder gets past the third baseman and the runner easily scores. Does this pitcher still get the loss despite the swinging strike 3 passed ball, and two throwing errors? If not, is there even a winning pitcher of record either.

  23. An away H.S.varsity game and tie in bottom on the 6th (7 total innings) Score: 2-2 Starter has 1 ER for his 6innings and 4 K’s.
    Closer pitcher in now warming up, Starter is done with 14 pitches past his total allowable pitch count. Visitors gain 3 runs in the top of 7th. Closer comes in to pitch a scoreless inning with 2 K’s.
    Game over 5-2
    Which pitcher get the W here?

    • The starter. Even though he left the game with the score tied at 2-2, in reality he was only officially replaced by the closer in the bottom of the 7th once his team already had the 5-2 lead. Give him the W, give the closer the save.

  24. Ok….here’s the question. K Rod has 6 save appearances but a record of 0-2….how does this happen. I didn’t see but my son did. And yes my Brewers were stinkin it up before they fired Roenicke. Anyone????

    • I’m not quite sure what the question is. In a save appearance, the pitcher can get a loss. KRod does have 2 this year, one on April 8th when he came in to a tie game in the 10th inning, and gave up a home run and took the loss, the other on April 22nd, when he came in to a tie game in the 9th, and also gave up a run. Note, that neither of these situations were save situations, as the game was tied when he entered the game. Although if the Brewers had been winning by a run and he gave up 2, it would have been a save situation, and he would be charged with both a blown save and a loss.

  25. i’m trying to understand how a pitcher gives up 2 earned runs and they loose 3-2 how does he get the lost for giving up 2 earned runs when his team scores 2,,,idk,,,i really never noticed this till i started playing fantasy baseball this year

    • The losing pitcher is the one who left the game when his team was losing, and is team never regained the lead. Say the starting pitcher gives up a run and leaves trailing 1-0 after 6 innings. In the 7th the bullpen gives up 9 more runs. In the 8th and 9th inning, his team scores 7 times and they lose 10-7. The starting pitcher who only gave up 1 run is charged with the loss, as he left the game when his team was trailing.

  26. here’s a line i’m kinda talking about
    Jake Arrieta, ChC SP
    4-6 End 6th 6.0 7 3 2 7 0 0 0 10
    hits er walk k’s
    just saying if this was a final score,,he has 3 earned runs and his team scores 4
    it just doesn’t make since to me

  27. what if a relief pitcher comes in during a 5-1 lead in the 4th, ends up letting 3 runs in but finishes winning by 1. does the relief pitcher get a “hold” “win” ?

  28. Does a relief pitcher get the loss if the starter has loaded the bases and the go ahead run is a “reached base on error”. (Ie. Unearned run)

    • As far as losses go, earned vs unearned runs make no difference. If a pitcher only gives up 1 unearned run, but the team loses 1-0, he is still charged with the loss. As far as WHO gets the loss, if the starter let the go ahead run on base, and the reliever lets him score, it is the starter that gets the loss. He is responsible for the runs for all the runners he left on base (sort of – it’s actually the number of runners not the specific ones)

  29. I score for a summer collegiate league. The visiting team(who went on to lose) is leading by 1-0 after 4 1/2 INN. In the bottom of the 5th the starter gets into trouble, and is relieved. When that half inning is finally over the home team has scored 6. 4R charged to the starter and 2 to the reliever.(This is the only inning in which the home team scored.) The visitors continue to add runs in later innings but lose 6-5. Does the starter get the loss because he gave up the 2nd run and gave the home team a lead they did not relinquish? Does the reliever get the loss because he allowed the 6th run, the number needed to surpass the visitors efforts at regaining any lead? Do you see where my confusion is, or am I overthinking it? The home team definitely needed those 6 runs to win, but when they scored their 2nd run, they had a lead that they never gave up.

    • The starter gets the loss, as he left the game while losing, and the other team never relinquished the lead. See the example I have in the last paragraph of the article: “if a pitcher gives up 1 run and pitches 7 innings, and a subsequent pitcher gives up 10 more runs, and then the team comes back to only lose 11-10, the pitcher who gave up the first run is still the losing pitcher, as he left trailing, and his team never caught up. “

  30. Why did Miller get the loss in the July 30 yankee-rangers game when he gave up the walk-off hit but was not charged with the losing run?

    • This is an excellent question. The short answer is that he CANNOT be charged with a loss if he is not charged with the run. I see some different boxscores on different sites. On MLB it shows Goody charged with the run, but Miller with the loss. On baseball reference it shows Miller charged with an earned run, but strangely it shows Goody with the actual run. This is also impossible. You cannot be charged with an earned run but not the actual run. ESPN shows what I think is the correct boxscore. Miller charged with the run, Goody with no run and Miller gets the loss.

  31. If a pitcher allows a base runner in a tie game, is replaced and the relief pitcher allows that run to score and the game is lost, who gets the loss? I know the pitcher who allowed the runner to get on is charged with the run.

    • The pitcher who is charged with the run gets the loss (the first pitcher in this case).

      • But what if the second pitcher gives up a home run? Lets say the score is 2-2. Pitcher A gives up a single and gets taken out. Pitcher B gives up a HR to the next batter. The score is now 4-2. Would Pitcher B get the loss because the second run scores anyways on the home run he gave up?

      • Pitcher A gets the loss. It was the runner pitcher A let on base that ended up scoring the 3rd run (which is the one that gave the other team the lead). Pitcher B would only get charged with one run (the 4th one which was after they were already losing).

  32. Collin Murphy

    I understand that pinch hitters can’t get a win, but what if they pitched after pinch hitting? Say someone pinch hits for a pitcher in the 6th with the teams being tied, that team scores in the 6th to take the lead and the pinch hitter then is used as a pitcher. Would they then be able to get the win because they were the official “pitcher” at the time his team took the lead or would it still go to the pitcher who pitched the previous inning?

    • It’s the pitcher who was pitching the previous inning that gets the win. Even though the pinch hitter went on to pitch, he was not officially the pitcher until he took the mound. At that point his team already had the lead so it goes to the previous pitcher.

  33. Steven lukasiewicz

    I thought I understood the win loss until tonights game. Went did scherzer get the loss against the rockies on August 20th? He was down 2-0 at the end of the sixth, but he finished 6 innings. Nats score 2 in top of 7th to tie the game. Scherzer replace at the beginning of the bottom of the 7th and did not pitch to 1 batter. The relievers give up 1 run and they go onto lose 3-2.

    Scherzer was replaced only after the game was tied so shouldn’t the reliever that gave up the go ahead run in the bottom of the 7th be charged with the loss?

    • Fear not. Your understanding of who gets the loss is correct, it’s your recollection of the game’s events that is inaccurate. In tonight’s game Scherzer did pitch to the first batter to start the 7th inning. He gave up a hit to Jose Reyes and then got pulled. Reyes subsequently scored. Even though he scored when a reliever was pitching, the run was charged to Scherzer, as he was responsible for him when he left the game. So Scherzer got charged with 3 runs, and the loss.

  34. Say the starter is leading 3-2 after 6. Relief pitcher comes in during 7th and gives up tying run. Same team regains lead in 8th 4-3. Closers comes in and strikes out the side in the 9th. Who gets the W? Is a tie considered relinquishing the lead?

    • A tie IS considered relinquishing the lead. If the relief pitcher who gives up the tying run in the 7th is also he one who pitched the 8th, he would be the one that gets the win, as he was the pitcher of record when they took the lead that they did not relinquish.

  35. In my son’s youth baseball league tonight, the Home pitcher threw 3 innings and finished the 3rd inning with a 5-3 lead. In the top of the 4th inning, the Visiting team scored 3 runs off the relief pitcher to take the lead, 5-6. In the bottom of the 4th inning — in this game, the final inning — the Home team scored 2 runs to walk off and win, 7-6. The Home team’s relief pitcher lost the lead, but it was re-gained in the bottom of the inning (and then the game ended). Who gets the Win?

    • The relief pitcher. Even though he gave up the lead, he was the “pitcher of record” when the team regained the lead, so he gets credit (maybe undeservedly?) for the win. This is one of the many reasons why I think pitcher wins and losses aren’t a very good gauge of a pitcher’s performance as I pointed out in this article a couple of years ago

  36. No explanation is given for the “5-inning rule”. Why is there any minimum number of innings required to give the STARTING pitcher the win when no minimum number of innings is required for a reliever to get the win? I can appreciate the “most effective” criteria for determining the winner in the case of a reliever but I don’t understand why a starter has to pitch a minimum of 5 (or any number of) innings to be awarded the win (everything else being equal).

  37. I would like to understand a situation that occurred in a game from August 26, 1965. The Kansas City Athletics were hosting the Detroit Tigers and the game was tied 3-3 in the 6th inning. Diego Segui was on in relief for the A’s and retired the Tigers in the 5th and 6th innings. In the bottom of the 6th, Tommie Reynolds homered to give the A’s a 4-3 lead. Segui came out to pitch in the 7th inning. He got into trouble and was relieved by Jim Dickson. The Tigers’ rally was squashed and the game was never tied again. The A’s added a run and won 5-3. Dickson, not Segui, got credit for the win. Why?

    You can find the box score and play-by-play at

  38. I have a question on if our starting pitcher gets the loss in this situation: 0-0 in the top of the 6th inning, a runner gets a base hit, steals second, then walks a batter. Starting pitcher comes out and relief pitcher comes in. Then runner on second steals third. Runners on 1st and third and the runner at first leaves early to second and our pitcher steps off and over throws the second basemen and the runner at third scores. Who’s loss is it?

    • It is the starting pitcher’s loss. Even though he may be charged with no earned runs (the run scored on the error and if there were no subsequent hits he wouldn’t have scored), it was his runner who ended up scoring, so he takes the loss.

  39. Jim Hartzfeld

    Thanks for this site and your responses. My question revolves around the “ineffective in a brief appearance” rule for assigning a win to a relief pitcher. Would an entire inning of work be considered a “brief appearance?” For example, a pitcher relieves the starter when ahead 4-1 but gives up 3 runs to tie the game in his only appearance but completes the inning. In the next at bat, his team scores the eventual winning runs. Subsequent relief pitchers hold the opposing team to no further runs. I would very much like to assign the win to a subsequent and better performing reliever.

    • This is a tough one because there are is no clear definition of “ineffecitve in a brief appearance”. There is however a comment in the scoring rules 10.17(c) that says “scorer should consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score“. Based on that limited guidance, I would personally give him the win since he did pitch an entire inning. However, as the official scorer, you can feel free to give it to any of the subsequent pitchers and if questioned just use the “brief and ineffective” as your reasoning.

      • My situation is almost exactly as Jim Hartzfield’s above EXCEPT there was only 1 relief pitcher. A youth starter went 6 full innings and came out with a 6-4 lead. The one relief pitcher in the top of the 7th allowed the opposition to tie but completed the inning. The home team won in a walk-off in the bottom of the 7th. It’s hard for me to get my head around giving the W to the relief pitcher who gave up the lead, but is he the by-the-book winner? Scorer’s discretion?

      • The pitcher of record when the winning runs scored gets the win. I too dislike the fact that a pitcher might blow the lead, even give up the lead but benefit from his team scoring enough runs to overcome the deficit he “created.” He gets the win and says “sorry” to the pitcher who might have won had he done his job and “thank you” to the offense for getting him off the hook. (Same reply as above: August 30, 2016)

  40. Three pitchers used in a high school game. Starter goes 4 complete and leaves the game with a 2 to 1 lead. After 7 innings the game is tied 2-2. Relief pitcher throws the 5th, 6th and 7th. We take the lead in the top of the 8th 3 -2 and a third pitcher closes the game. We win 3 to 2. Does the pitcher that threw the 5th, 6th and 7th get the win, the closer get the save and the starter gets a no decision?

  41. Real game situation which I don’t understand:
    It’s a “pitch-by-committee game. Four pitchers are used; first pitcher goes 3 innings, 2nd pitcher goes 3 innings, 3rd pitchers goes 2 inning, and the final pitcher goes 1 inning. All pitches do well; no pitcher is replaced for poor performance. The four pitchers collectively pitch a shutout and win 2-0. The offense scored one run in the 1st inning and one run in fourth inning. So the lead was established while the first pitcher was in the game and the lead was never relinquished. The first pitcher gave up one hit; the second pitched gave up no hits. The win was officially awarded to the second pitcher.

    Is that award correct decision? Why?

    • Correct decision. Lead was never relinquished, the starting pitcher did NOT go the requisite 5 innings, the 2nd pitcher did pitch effectively through the 6th.

  42. Would you have given the win in the blow out game today (August 22, 2016) between the Dodgers and the Reds to Chavez (1.1 IP, 2H, 1R) who got one out in the 3rd and 3 outs in the 4th OR Dayton who pitched the 5th inning (0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K)?

    • Well… based on the scoring rules, I could really give it to any of the relievers, as long as I could justify “deeming” him to be the most effective. In the games I do, I always default to whichever pitcher has the best looking mom (!). But seriously, based on the game situation, I think Chavez is the right choice. He came in to a 6-4 game and held the Reds to 1 run. Dayton then held them scoreless when the game was 12-5 – this was a much lower pressure situation. Even Howell could have been given the win – he came in the game with 2 men on, and didn’t allow either to score while throwing 1.1 IP. I think by default when multiple pitchers are somewhat equally effective, scorers default to the first pitcher.

  43. Thanks for your reply and explanation. I have been too focused on the 5th inning “rule” for starters and didn’t look at the Dodgers outburst extending their lead substantially.

  44. extra inning game and catcher overthrows third base for an error and the winning run scores does the reliever still take the loss??

    • Whoever allowed the runner to get on base takes the loss. If he reached base while the reliever was pitching he gets the loss. You can get a loss without giving up any earned runs.

  45. who would be the pitcher of record in a situation where the visiting team wins the game with a run in the top of the ninth, and the closer starting and finishing the bottom of the inning..
    thank’s kindly

  46. addendum to above,

    fabulous site!, thorough, informative and a pleasure to spend time on, thank’s so much..


  47. The pitcher of record in the bottom of the 8th would be the winning pitcher. Assumptions: the score was tied after 8 innings and the visitors scored the go ahead run in the top of the 9th. The closer who started the bottom of the 9th gets the save if the lead was 3 runs or less when he started.

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