August 25, 1979: Pirates Win 19-Inning Marathon From Padres

In the longest game in franchise history to this point, the Pirates beat San Diego, 4-3, in 19 innings.  It took a ninth-inning rally for them just to get to extra innings, and a dozen innings of nearly flawless relief for them to prevail.

Most of the way, the game was a duel between the Bucs’ Bert Blyleven and the Padres’ Gaylord Perry.  Blyleven had to overcome some trouble, including six walks in seven innings and a leadoff triple in the second.  The Padres got to him only in the third, and partly due to some poor defense.  Ozzie Smith, leading off, reached third on a double and an error by left fielder John Milner, then came home on a wild pitch.  After an out, Gene Tenace doubled and went to third on another error by Milner.  Tenace scored on an error by second baseman Phil Garner.

Blyleven allowed at least one runner in each of the next four innings, but kept San Diego off the board.  He exited for a pinch hitter with the two runs allowed, one earned.

The Pirates had even less success against Perry through eight innings.  A pair of first-inning singles was wiped out by an inning-end double play.  They got runners to second and third with two out in the third, but didn’t score.  Three more double plays — the Padres turned six in the game — helped keep the Bucs scoreless until they entered the ninth trailing, 2-0.

Two groundouts, sandwiching a double by Dave Parker, brought the Pirates down to their last out.  Milner walked and Bill Madlock singled to drive in Parker.  That broke up the shutout and chased Perry for ace reliever Rollie Fingers.  A passed ball by catcher Bill Fahey brought in Milner’s pinch runner, Matt Alexander, to tie the game.  Fingers walked the next two batters, one intentionally — there were nine intentional walks in the game — and the Padres went to Mark Lee to get the last out.

Enrique Romo had kept the Padres off the board in the eighth and Kent Tekulve did the same in the ninth and tenth.  In the top of the 11th, the Pirates lost both Madlock and manager Chuck Tanner.  Madlock threw his helmet after getting called out on strikes, prompting his ejection, and Tanner got tossed coming to Madlock’s defense.  With Bob Skinner running the show, Don Robinson threw a scoreless 11th.

In the 12th, the Pirates took a 3-2 lead when Omar Moreno singled in Garner, who’d doubled.  Robinson, though, couldn’t quite protect the lead.  A two-out single by Dan Briggs scored Dave Winfield and tied the game back up.

The game ground on.  The Padres’ Steve Mura and the Bucs’ Grant Jackson threw scoreless ball in the 13th and 14th, with only one runner reaching second.  In the 15th, the Padres went with John D’Acquisto, while Jackson threw one more scoreless inning.  From the 16th on, it was D’Acquisto against Pirates’ lefty Dave Roberts.

Roberts didn’t have an easy time.  In the 16th, the Padres got a runner to third with two out.  San Diego had no more position players left — in fact, D’Acquisto had entered the game as a pinch hitter — so the Pirates walked the bases loaded to get to D’Acquisto.  Roberts fell behind 3-0, but D’Acquisto took three straight strikes to end the inning.

In the 17th, the Padres loaded the bases with nobody out.  Roberts got a called third strike on Jay Johnstone.  Johnstone was so incensed over the call that, according to the SABR game account, he had to be tackled by manager Roger Craig, who was down to just two pitchers on the bench and couldn’t afford to lose anybody.  Roberts then got a force at the plate and another ground out.

Finally, in the 19th inning, the Pirates struck with two out.  Bill Robinson doubled and, after an intentional walk to Moreno, Tim Foli singled to center to drive in Robinson.  San Diego got a runner to second with one out in the bottom half, but Roberts got two fly balls to end the game.

Roberts gave up four hits and three walks over his four innings, but no runs.  He got the win for his efforts, making him 2-3.  The Padres had 14 hits and 14 walks, but went 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position and stranded 26.  The Pirates had 14 hits and ten walks, with Moreno getting one hit and four walks, along with his 57th steal.  The Bucs stranded a more pedestrian total of 14.

The Expos were rained out in Atlanta.  That leaves the Pirates up by two and a half games.