August 1, 1979: Pirates’ Triple Threat Beats Cards, 4-3

By Wilbur Miller

The Cardinals are probably tired of the number three.  After taking a 3-0 lead, they saw the Pirates score three runs to tie thanks to three triples.  Ultimately, the Bucs took a 4-3 win to stay within a game of first.

Pirate starter Don Robinson was coming off a rough month of July, with a 7.58 ERA in four starts.  This game wasn’t a big improvement, as he allowed three runs on nine hits over six innings.  He got through the first two innings, allowing a two-out single in each.  In the third, though, his mound opponent, Bob Forsch, led off with a single and scored on a Garry Templeton triple.  Tony Scott then singled in Templeton.

Robinson set the Cards down in the fourth and fifth, but in the sixth, Mike Phillips doubled to right with two out and two on.  Fortunately, the relay from Dave Parker to Rennie Stennett to Ed Ott cut down the trailing runner at the plate, holding St. Louis to a 3-0 lead.

Until the bottom of the sixth, the Pirates were getting nowhere with Forsch.  They had only one hit in the first five innings.

Leading off the bottom of the sixth, though, Manny Sanguillen hit for Robinson and lined one to center.  Sangy and his aging knees legged out a triple.  Then a more likely candidate, Omar Moreno, also tripled to center.  After a popup, a sacrifice fly by Parker made it 3-2.

In the seventh, the Bucs tripled up again.  With Ott aboard and two out, Mike Easler hit for Grant Jackson, who’d thrown a scoreless top half of the inning.  Easler tripled to left, the team’s second straight pinch-hit triple.  Easler was thrown out trying to stretch to a home run, but the scored was tied, 3-3.

The Pirates got another scoreless inning, this one from Enrique Romo, and in the bottom of the eighth, Omar Moreno led off with a single and stole second, his 46th theft of the year.  A groundout by Tim Foli put Moreno on third.  With the left-handed Parker and John Milner due up, the Cards sent lefty Darold Knowles in to replace Forsch.  The strategy failed, though, as Parker drove in Moreno, albeit with a mere double.

With two left-handed hitters–Ken Oberkfell and Phillips–due up, Chuck Tanner went with the left-handed Dave Roberts in the ninth.  Roberts ended up facing two right-handed pinch hitters, but retired both.  A walk and a single followed, though, and Tanner turned to Kent Tekulve.  Teke got Scott on a fly ball to rack up his 19th save.

The win went to Romo, who’s now 6-3.  The Expos beat the Cubs, leaving the Pirates a game out of first and three games ahead of third-place Chicago.