Kent Tekulve continued his shaky start to the 1979 season as the Pirates gave up three in the ninth in a 5-2 loss to the Braves.
The loss ruined a fine start by Bert Blyleven. He gave up just two hits and three walks, striking out six, over eight innings. The only damage came via the two hits he allowed. One came in the third, on a longball by Gary Matthews, and the other in the sixth, when Jerry Royster led off with a double and scored on two fly balls. Blyleven retired the side in the seventh and eighth before departing for a pinch hitter.
The Pirates meanwhile couldn’t take advantage of their chances against Phil Niekro, who threw a complete game despite six walks. They went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They got Omar Moreno to third with one out in the bottom of the first, on a double and a groundout, but didn’t score. With one out in the third, Tim Foli doubled and went to third on a single by Dave Parker. A passed ball scored Foli, but Parker was stranded on second.
The Pirates got their only lead in the fifth. Foli again doubled with one out and scored on a single by Parker. An error put Parker on third, still with one out. After an intentional walk to Willie Stargell, though, Bill Robinson grounded into a double play. Even worse, Pops was hurt on the play and left for John Milner.
The Bucs had chances with two out in the seventh and eighth. With two down in the seventh, Foli hit his third double, but the Braves walked the Cobra and Milner grounded out. A pair of walks put two on with two out in the eighth, but Mike Easler, batting for Blyleven, struck out.
Things came apart quickly in the ninth. Matthews led off against Teke with an inside-the-park home run. The next two batters singled, bringing on Grant Jackson. A sacrifice fly brought in one run. After a caught stealing erased the other inherited runner, Enrique Romo, who’d replaced Jackson, gave up a single, a steal, and an RBI single to make it 5-2.
The Pirates managed only a walk by Foli in the ninth. The loss dropped Teke to 1-4.