By Wilbur Miller
The Pirates came back from an early deficit to beat the Mets, 8-5, in their return to TRS. With Montreal splitting a doubleheader, the Bucs picked up half a game and moved into a virtual tie for first, two percentage points behind the Expos.
John Candelaria didn’t have his best start. The Mets got on the board two batters into the game, when John Stearns took the Candy Man deep.
The Pirates came back in the bottom of the first, as their first four hitters — Omar Moreno, Tim Foli, Dave Parker and Willie Stargell — all singled off Mets’ starter Craig Swan. The last two hits brought in runs, but John Milner hit into a double play, stifling the rally.
Candelaria struggled through the second and third, allowing two runs in each. Dan Norman tripled in a run in the second, and then scored on a single by Swan. In the third, three singles and a fly ball produced two more, making it 5-2. Candelaria got through two more innings after that, although he had to get out of a second-and-third, one-out situation in the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates tied the game. Foli doubled in Moreno, then scored on a single by Parker. The Cobra stole second and, with two out, scored when first baseman Willie Montanez botched Milner’s grounder.
Candelaria came out for a pinch hitter in the fifth and the Bucs’ bullpen shut the Mets down the rest of the way. Enrique Romo, Grant Jackson and Kent Tekulve combined for four scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and one walk, and fanning five. The Mets didn’t get a runner past first the rest of the way.
Swan also was tough after the fifth, throwing two more scoreless innings. He came out for a hitter in the top of the eighth and the Mets went with Dwight Bernard.
Bernard didn’t last long. Milner doubled, and Bill Madlock and Ed Ott both singled, the last hit bringing in a run to put the Pirates up, 6-5. The Mets switched to Andy Hassler and Rennie Stennett bunted the runners up. Hassler walked Robinson to load the bases, but a Moreno sacrifice fly and a Foli single brought in two more runs.
Tekulve pitched the ninth to earn his 18th save. Jackson pitched the seventh and eighth, and got the win to move to 6-2.