June 15, 1979: Pirates End Losing Streak Behind Blyleven and Big Ninth Inning

The Pirates put an end to their five-game losing streak by beating the Dodgers in Los Angeles, 6-2.  Bert Blyleven threw shutout ball into the eighth inning and a five-run ninth sealed the win.

The Dutchman had only limited trouble for much of the game.  He faced a first-and-third, one-out situation in the bottom of the fourth, but fanned Ron Cey and got Dusty Baker on a flyball.  The Dodgers got two on with one out in the next inning, but Blyleven pitched out of it.

Blyleven’s outing came to an end in the eighth.  A single and steal by Bill Russell put a runner in scoring position with one out and the Pirates ahead just 1-0.  Blyleven fanned Reggie Smith and the Pirates elected to walk Steve Garvey.  Kent Tekulve came on to get Cey to line out.  Blyleven gave up just four hits in his seven and two-thirds innings.

The score had been 1-0 ever since the first.  Tim Foli singled, went to third on a single by Willie Stargell and scored on a wild pitch.  LA starter Don Sutton breezed through the Pirates after that, allowing just three singles, one to Blyleven, until he left for a pinch hitter after seven innings.

The Bucs broke the game open in the ninth against former Pirate Ken Brett and Dave Patterson.  Phil Garner singled to drive in Bill Robinson, who’d singled and stolen second.  A walk and an infield hit by, of all people, Teke loaded the bases with two out.  Omar Moreno singled to drive in two and, after Foli walked, Dave Parker singled to drive in Teke and Moreno.

The extra margin came in handy, as Teke gave up a two-run home run to Joe Ferguson in the bottom of the ninth.  That accounted for the final margin of 6-2.  Blyleven moved to 3-2 and Teke got his seventh save.  Foli was the only Pirate with two hits, although the two pitchers combined for two.  The win edged the Bucs over .500 and left them five games behind the Expos, who lost to Houston.