June 3, 1979: Bruce Kison Throws One-Hitter

Bruce Kison came within four outs of a no-hitter as the Pirates trounced San Diego, 7-0.  The only hit, with two out in the top of the eighth, was a bad-hop double past third that eluded Phil Garner and led to some disenchantment with the official scorer.

Kison wasn’t even supposed to start the game, having pitched the ninth inning the night before, not much over twelve hours earlier.  Don Robinson was supposed to go, but couldn’t get loose.  Chuck Tanner decided Kison was the best available option.

Through the first seven innings, the only baserunners against Kison came on walks, Dave Winfield in the first and Gene Tenace in the fourth.  Both reached second and went no further.  According to the SABR game account, the only hard-hit ball was a liner by Dan Briggs on which Dave Parker made a leaping catch in right.

In the eighth, Kison got a ground out and flyball to start the inning.  Then third baseman Barry Evans, who came into the game batting 200/219/250, hit a bouncer toward third that took a bad hop, ticked off Garner’s glove and went into left, with Evans reaching second.  The scorer ruled it a double.  Kison was upset with the ruling and said so after the game, but he recovered to get Bill Almon on a flyball.  He retired the side in the ninth on a flyball, strikeout and popup.

The Pirates’ hitters, meanwhile, left little doubt about the game outcome by blasting five home runs.  Four came off Padre starter Bob Owchinko in the first three innings.

Bill Robinson started the fireworks with a three-run bomb in the first, following singles by Tim Foli and Dave Parker.  In the third, the Bucs went deep three times.  Omar Moreno led off the inning with his third home run of the season.  One batter later, Parker and Robinson hit back-to-back blasts.  It was the Cobra’s ninth.  Robinson’s second of the game gave him four RBIs on the day and a dozen home runs on the year.  That made it 6-0.  The final run came in the sixth when Lee Lacy hit his first home run as a Pirate.

The win improved Kison’s record to 3-1.  He allowed just the three baserunners while striking out six, and lowered his ERA to 2.61.  With the Expos losing to Houston, the Pirates stand four games out of first and one behind the third-place Phillies.

Next up in TRS is Los Angeles.  The Dodgers will send Rick Sutcliffe, Don Sutton and former Pirate Jerry Reuss against Jim Rooker, Bert Blyleven and Ed Whitson.