June 27, 1979: Bucs’ Bullpen Implodes in 12-9 Loss to Mets

The Pirates and Mets resumed their home-and-home series at Three Rivers Stadium and the home team’s relievers probably would have just as soon stayed in New York.  All three of the Pirates’ top three relievers got pummeled as New York scored nine times in the last three innings to post a 12-9 win.

Bucs’ starter Ed Whitson had trouble early.  He walked two batters in the first, both of whom scored on a two-out triple by John Stearns.  It would have been worse had Whitson not picked off Joel Youngblood, who singled to start the game.  Youngblood got some payback in the second, knocking in a run with a double to make it 3-0, Mets.

Whitson settled down after that, holding the Mets scoreless for the next four innings.  Meanwhile, the Bucs came back against former teammate Dock Ellis, tying the game with single runs in the third, fourth and fifth.  Tim Foli drove in Rennie Stennett with a sacrifice fly in the third, then Stennett singled in John Milner in the fourth.  The Pirates tied it in the fifth when Mike Easler singled in Foli.

The Bucs had a chance to finish Ellis off in the sixth when Phil Garner singled, then stole second and third with nobody out.  Stennett and pinch hitter Lee Lacy couldn’t get the run home, though, and Foli lined out after an intentional walk to Omar Moreno.

With Whitson gone, Enrique Romo took over and gave up an unearned run in the top of the seventh.  Lee Mazzilli singled Youngblood to third and the latter scored on an error by Moreno.  The Pirates got their first lead in the bottom half, though, when Ed Ott followed a walk to Easler with his fourth home run of the season.  That made it 5-4.

The lead didn’t last.  Romo gave up a leadoff double in the eighth and Chuck Tanner called for Kent Tekulve.  Teke didn’t have it, though, giving up three singles to account for three runs, the last one scoring on a Stennett error.

With the Mets ahead 7-5, the Pirates came back against reliever Dale Murray.  Moreno and Foli each drove in runs to tie the game, and the go-ahead run scored when Bill Robinson reached on an error.  Garner drove in a fourth run to make the score 9-7, but Robinson got thrown out at the plate.

Tanner went to Grant Jackson for the ninth and things unraveled quickly.  Willie Montanez and Steve Henderson started the inning with back-to-back home runs, tying the game.  Three more hits, along with an intentional walk and a passed ball, produced three more runs, making the score 12-9.  Wayne Twitchell allowed the Pirates just a hit in the bottom half to close it out.

Jackson took the loss, dropping to 4-1.  The Pirates had 13 hits, three by Garner.  The loss dropped the Pirates into a second-place tie with the Cubs, but the Expos lost so they remained six games out of first.