May 5, 1979: Pops’ Pinch Hit Caps Comeback

The Pirates staged a three-run rally in the ninth, topped off by Willie Stargell’s two-out, two-run pinch single, to beat St. Louis, 6-5.  The win continued a weeklong pattern of the Bucs alternating wins and losses.

Bert Blyleven continued his early-season struggles, lasting only three and two-thirds and leaving the Pirates behind, 4-0.  He gavve up a run in the second on a single by Ken Reitz, then three more in the fourth.  That inning started with a home run by Ted Simmons.  A walk and a double then put runners on second and third with one out.  Blyleven almost got out of it, striking out Mike Tyson, but gave up a two-run triple to his mound opponents, Bob Forsch.  That brought on Jim Bibby, who fanned Garry Templeton.

The Pirates hadn’t gotten very far with Forsch up to that point.  Their best chance came in the top of the fourth.  A walk to Dave Parker, a steal and an error put runners at the corner with no out.  Bill Robinson grounded out, with the runner on first going to second.  The Cards intentionally walked Ed Ott to get to Phil Garner, who grounded into a double play.

The Bucs finally broke through in the sixth.  A Tim Foli single and a Parker double put runners on second and third to start the inning.  A fly ball by John Milner and a grounder by Robinson scored both.

Bibby shut down the Cards for two more innings and Enrique Romo threw a scoreless seventh.  In the top of the eighth, the Pirates pulled to within 4-3.  A two-out single by Ott scored Parker, who’d reached on a force play.  Romo gave it back in the bottom half, though, allowing a triple and a single with one out.  After a hit batsman, Grant Jackson came in to face lefty Ken Oberkfell.  St. Louis countered with righty Roger Freed, but Jackson got a strike-‘im-out, throw-‘im-out double play, with Ott throwing out pinch runner Jerry Mumphrey at third.

Down 5-3 in the ninth, the Pirates got some help.  After Rennie Stennett and pinch hitter Lee Lacy both singled off Pete Vuckovich, a bad throw by second baseman Tyson let Stennett score, and left Lacy on second and Omar Moreno on first.  Foli bunted the runners up and Vuckovich put Parker on to load the bases.  The Cards brought on lefty Buddy Schultz to face Milner, who hit into a force at the plate.  Right-hander Tom Bruno then entered to face Robinson, but the Bucs countered with Stargell, seeing his first game action since being hurt on a double play four days earlier.  Pops came through with a single to right, driving in Moreno and Parker to put the Bucs up, 6-5.

Ed Whitson pitched the ninth.  He gave up a one-out single to Templeton, but that was all.  Jackson got the win to go 2-0 and Whitson got his first save.  Parker had two doubles and scored three times.