April 29, 1979: Pirates Finally Solve the Astros

The top of the Pirates’ order had big days as the Bucs finally took care of Houston, 10-5, at Three Rivers.  Omar Moreno, Tim Foli and Dave Parker each had three hits to lead an offense that banged out 15 hits and drew eight walks.

The game didn’t start auspiciously.  Don Robinson gave up a leadoff home run to Terry Puhl and then departed for Bruce Kison.  I can’t find an explanation for Robinson’s quick exit, but he started again five days later, so it wasn’t an injury of any significance.  Kison gave up a second run almost as quickly, as Craig Reynolds singled, went to third on an error by Parker, and scored on a wild pitch.

The Pirates tied the game when Willie Stargell drove in single runs in the first and third, without getting a hit.  In the first, a groundout scored Moreno, who’d singled, stolen second and gone to third on a Foli single.  A sacrifice fly in the third scored Foli, who’d singled and gone to third on a double by the Cobra.

Kison meanwhile was having what amounted to a good start, going seven and a third in all, and contributing at the plate as well.  While he kept the Astros off the board, the Pirates scored twice each in the fourth and fifth.  In the fourth, one-out walks to Kison and Moreno off Joe Niekro led to RBI singles by Foli and Pops.  In the fifth, Phil Garner and Rennie Stennett walked, moved up on a bunt by Kison, and scored on a single by Moreno.  That made it 6-2.

Houston got a second unearned run off Kison in the top of the seventh, when an error by Foli and two singles set up a sacrifice fly.  The Pirates, though, made it 8-3 on RBI singles by Stennett and Moreno in the bottom half.

The Astros finally chased Kison in the top of the eighth.  Three singles loaded the bases with one out and brought on Kent Tekulve.  Teke struck out Bob Watson, but a single by Art Howe scored two.  A walk loaded the bases again and Chuck Tanner brought in lefty Grant Jackson to face left-handed pinch hitter Denny Walling.  Houston countered with right-handed Jesus Alou, but Jackson fanned him to end the threat.  Kison was charged with four runs, two earned, on eight hits.

The Pirates got the two runs right back in the bottom half on RBI singles by Bill Robinson and Stennett.  The latter finished with two RBIs, and Moreno and Stargell each had three.  Jackson picked up his third save with an easy ninth, while Kison’s win was his first decision of the year.