May 17, 1979: Willie Stargell Powers Pirates to Series Win Over Mets

Willie Stargell went deep twice off left-handers as the Pirates edged the Mets, 6-5.  The win gave the Bucs the rubber match in their three-game series.  It also gave the team its first back-to-back victories since April 24-25.

The Pirates took a three-run lead early.  The Mets got on the board first on doubles by Richie Hebner and Willie Montanez in the second.  In the bottom of the third, though, Dave Parker drove in a run with a single and a second run came around on an error.  The next inning, Pops led off with his sixth bomb of the year, off lefty Pete Falcone.  Steve Nicosia and Rennie Stennett followed with singles, and Dale Berra, still filling in at short for Tim Foli, plated a run with a sacrifice fly, making it 4-1.

Pirates’ starter Ed Whitson began scuffling in the top of the fifth.  A double and single to start the inning made it 4-2.  The Mets chased Whitson in the sixth, starting the inning with four straight singles to tie the game.  Whitson finished with eight hits and four runs allowed in five-plus innings.  Jim Bibby relieved with first and second, and the Mets bunted the runners up.  Bibby stranded the runners at second and third by getting Doug Flynn to pop up and John Stearns to fly out.

Bibby’s second inning didn’t go as well.  Frank Taveras hit a one-out double, stole third and scored on a single by Lee Mazzilli.  That put the Mets up, 5-4.

Meanwhile, lefty reliever Jesse Orosco was making quick work of the Pirates.  He entered in the sixth and retired the first eight batters he faced.  With two out in the eighth, though, he walked Bill Robinson to bring up Stargell.  Pops had never faced the rookie left-hander before, but he gave Orosco an introduction to Pittsburgh with a ‘tater to right, number seven on the year.  That put the Bucs up 6-5.

Kent Tekulve had replaced Bibby to start the eighth.  He retired the Mets in order that inning and again in the ninth, fanning Steve Henderson and Taveras to end the game.  Teke got the win, improving his record to 2-4.

After the game, the Pirates left for Chicago to take on the Cubs in a three-game series.  Despite playing the Mets at night, they were scheduled for a day game the next day.  The starters for the Pirates:  John Candelaria, Jim Rooker and Don Robinson.  For the Cubs:  Ken Holtzman, Mike Krukow and Lynn McGlothen.