August 2, 1979: Eighth-Inning Meltdown Costs Pirates

By Wilbur Miller

The Pirates blew a 4-1, eighth-inning lead in the last game of their two-game series against St. Louis at TRS.  The result was a 5-4 loss that dropped them two games back of the Expos, who beat the Cubs.

The Bucs took an early 3-1 lead against Cards’ starter John Fulgham.  Dave Parker singled in a run in the bottom of the first.  After St. Louis tied it on an RBI double by Fulgham in the second, Bill Robinson put the Pirates back up in the bottom half with his 22nd home run.  Ed Ott and Rennie Stennett added another run with back-to-back doubles.

Jim Rooker had a strong start through seven innings.  He got a break in the top of the third when Tony Scott doubled with two out and Keith Hernandez on first.  The ball glanced off Omar Moreno to Parker, whose relay through Stennett caught Hernandez at home.

Rooker stranded three runners in the fifth and two more in the sixth.  The Pirates meanwhile picked up a fourth run in the sixth off reliever George Frazier.  Parker walked, stole second and scored on a single by Bill Madlock.

With the Bucs up, 4-1, things unraveled in the top of the eighth.  Rooker left with one out after a double and an error by Stennett put runners at the corners.  Grant Jackson came on and the first three batters reached on two singles and a fielder’s choice.  That let in three runs to tie the score.  After a fly out, Keith Hernandez singled to put the Cards up, 5-4.

The Cards brought in Darold Knowles, who shut down the Pirates with just one runner over the last two innings.  Jackson took the loss, dropping to 6-3.

Next up, the Phillies visit TRS for five games in three days.  A doubleheader tomorrow will feature Dick Ruthven (7-5, 4.32 ERA) and Larry Christenson (2-6, 4.65) against Bruce Kison (6-6, 3.64) and Jim Bibby (7-2, 3.06).  The Saturday game will pit Nino Espinosa (11-8, 3.53) against John Candelaria (9-7, 3.65).  The starters in the Sunday doubleheader will be Steve Carlton (11-9, 3.64) and Dickie Noles (3-2, 3.52) versus Bert Blyleven (9-4, 3.52) and Don Robinson (6-5, 4.00).