August 24, 1979: Pirates Lose Late Lead, Game to San Diego

John Candelaria engaged the Padres’ Randy Jones in a pitchers’ duel in San Diego to start the Pirates’ ten-game West Coast trip.  Candelaria and the bullpen, though, couldn’t hold a one-run, eighth-inning lead and lost, 3-2.  A win by Montreal cut the Bucs’ division lead to two games.

Both pitchers were outstanding through seven innings.  The only scoring came in the third when the teams traded single runs.  The Pirates scored in the top half when Omar Moreno reached second on an error by Jones, went to third when Tim Foli beat out a sacrifice attempt, and scored on a fly ball by Dave Parker.

The Padres tied it in the bottom half when Bill Almon reached second on a walk and a bunt.  The Pirates had Almon picked off second, but a bad throw by catcher Steve Nicosia cost them the out.  Ozzie Smith then doubled in the run, unearned due to the error.

Very little happened from then until the eighth.  Each team had a pair of singles in the fourth but didn’t score.  From the fifth through the seventh, Jones didn’t allow a baserunner.  Candelaria allowed a two-out double in the sixth, and saw runners reach on an error and a single in the seventh, but stranded the runners.

Parker put the Pirates ahead in the top of the eighth with his 23rd home run of the year.

In the bottom half, San Diego got the leadoff runner to second on a single and a bunt.  Chuck Tanner brought in Enrique Romo, who retired his first hitter.  After a walk, though, Romo allowed an RBI single to pinch hitter Jay Johnstone, tying the game, 2-2.  With the left-handed Gene Richards batting for Jones, Tanner turned to Grant Jackson, but Richards also singled, driving in the go-ahead run.  Moreno threw Johnstone out at third on the play, but the damage was done.

Phil Garner got a one-out single in the top of the ninth, but Willie Stargell, batting for Nicosia, grounded into a double play to end the game.  Romo took the loss, dropping to 10-4.