Five Pirates pitchers withstood 15 Cubs hits well enough to hang on for a 6-5 win, completing a three-game sweep in Chicago. Three home runs fueled the offense.
The Pirates got the early lead. John Milner, batting second with Tim Foli still out, reached Lynn McGlothen for his sixth home run with one out in the first. That was all the scoring through four innings. Pirate starter Don Robinson was helped by double plays, one on a line drive in the bottom of the first, then two more on grounders in the second and fourth.
The quiet stretch ended in the top of the fifth. Dale Berra extended the lead to 3-0, with his first home run of the season. It scored Phil Garner, who’d been hit by a pitch. The Cubs got those two back in the bottom half. The first scored on a double play grounder by McGlothen with runners at the corners. That was followed by a double and an RBI single by Scot Thompson. The Pirates got one run back in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Ed Ott.
Chuck Tanner pulled Robinson after five. Don had allowed only two runs, but he gave up eight hits and got a lot of line drive outs.
It took three pitchers for the Pirates to get out of the sixth. Jim Bibby replaced Robinson and gave up an unearned run when Dave Kingman singled and scored on an error by left fielder Milner following a double by Steve Ontiveros. Bibby got one out but departed after a walk. Tanner then employed Enrique Romo to get the right-handed Ted Sizemore and Grant Jackson to get the left-handed Bobby Murcer. That left the score 4-3.
Each team got a pair in the seventh. The Pirates’ came on Omar Moreno’s first longball of the year, which scored Rennie Stennett. The Cubs got to Jackson in the bottom half for an RBI double by Bill Buckner. Kent Tekulve replaced Jackson with Dave Kingman up, but Kingman singled to drive in Buckner and make it 6-5. Teke then retired the next two batters to end the inning.
The Pirates went down in order over the last two innings. Teke had a little more trouble, but got through it, which was a good thing with Bibby, Romo and Jackson all gone. The Cubs picked up a two-out walk and single in the eighth, but Mike Vail grounded out. In the ninth, Teke gave up a one-out single to Kingman, but got the other three batters in the inning to fly out to Moreno in center.
Tekulve got his third save with two and two-thirds scoreless innings of work. Robinson improved to 3-3. The win, which was the Pirates’ fifth in a row, broke a fourth-place tie with the Cubs. The team was left one game under .500 and six games behind the first-place Phillies.
Just half a game behind the Phillies were the Pirates’ next opponent, Montreal. In a three-game road series, the Pirates were set to send out Bert Blyleven, Ed Whitson and John Candelaria. The Expos expected to counter with Scott Sanderson, Ross Grimsley and Steve Rogers.