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Here is the scenario. A pitcher leaves the game after 7 innings with a 4-4 tie, but only 3 of the runs against were earned. The relief pitcher completes the game for a 6-4 win. Who gets the win?

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Unearned runs have nothing to do with wins and losses.

The answer to your question depends on when the 5th run was scored.

If the pitcher finishes the 7th inning, and his team scores a run before the relief pitcher enters the game, he gets the win.

If the relief pitcher enters the game before the 5th run is scored, the relief pitcher gets the win. This is the case regadless of how the relief pitcher enters the game. It might be by starting the 8th inning, pinch-hitting in the 7th, or even through a double-switch.

It's all about the "pitcher of record" when the last lead-change takes place.


The win is given to the "pitcher of record" when the winning team takes the lead for the last time.

As wax eagle has pointed out, a starting pitcher cannot get a win unless he pitches 5 complete innings.

Interesting example:

  • Pitcher A enters the game in the top of the 7th inning with his team winning by 3
  • Pitcher A gives up 5 earned runs, but completes the 7th inning (he blows the lead)
  • Pitcher A's team scores 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning (his team makes a comeback)
  • Pitcher B relieves pitcher A by entering the game to start the 8th inning (Pitcher A is done)
  • Pitcher A's team holds the lead and wins the game
  • Pitcher A gets the win after pitching less than 1 inning and blowing a 3 run lead
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Wins and losses are based on the score, not on whether or not the runs are earned or not. If the pitcher's team loses the game they cannot get a win, even if they gave up fewer earned runs than their team scored.

The pitcher at the time the winning team gains a lead they keep through the rest of the game is the winning pitcher. There is only one exception to this rule. If the starting pitchers does not pitch 5 innings and his team gets the lead while he is still in the game the official scorer is to award the win to the "most effective pitcher for the winning team"

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The fact that a run is "unearned" does not affect win-loss tallies. In this context, "a a run is a run is a run."

If he leaves at the end of an inning, the starting pitcher is the "pitcher of record" in the half inning after he leaves, when his team is batting. If his team scored the fifth run during this half inning, he gets the win; otherwise the relief pitcher does.

What the fact that the runs are "unearned" do affect, is the pitcher's earned run average (ERA). Such runs do NOT counted toward his ERA.

So a pitcher could give up, say, one unearned run, lose the game 1-0, and have a 0.00 ERA for the game.

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