Former Pirate Art Howe did much of the damage as the Pirates lost to Houston for the fourth straight time, 9-8, in eleven innings. The result undid a dramatic bottom of the ninth in which Dave Parker and Willie Stargell hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game.
The Astros jumped on John Candelaria early, scoring three in the first on an RBI single by Bob Watson and a two-run double by Howe. They stretched it to 6-0 by getting two in the third and one in the fourth. The Candy Man lasted only five innings, giving up six runs, one of them unearned, on nine hits.
The Pirates got on the board in the bottom of the fourth when Omar Moreno singled, stole second and scored on a double by Pops. A two-run single by Tim Foli made it 6-3 in the sixth, but the Astros got one of those back in the seventh when Enos Cabell homered off Jim Bibby.
The Pirates made it a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh. Moreno doubled, then scored on a pinch-hit double by Manny Sanguillen. A walk, an error and a groundball by Stargell scored two more, making it 7-6 Houston.
Enrique Romo kept the deficit at one in the eighth, but in the top of the ninth Kent Tekulve gave up a two-out home run to Howe, making it 8-6. The run was unfortunate, because the first two batters in the bottom half, Parker and Stargell, went deep. The homers were the Cobra’s third and Pops’ fourth, and left the game tied.
Teke kept the score tied in the tenth, but the Pirates missed a chance to win it when Stargell fanned with the bases loaded. In the eleventh, Howe struck again. A leadoff single and a bunt gave the Astros a runner on second against Ed Whitson. After a strikeout, the Pirates intentionally walked Cabell to get to Howe. The strategy failed as Howe singled to drive in a run, giving him four hits and four RBIs on the day.
Frank Ricelli gave up only a two-out single to Ed Ott in the bottom half, striking out the other three hitters. Ott and Moreno each had three hits on the day, and Pops had three RBIs.