August 31, 1979: Pirates Get Early Lead, Hang on to Beat Giants

The Pirates opened their four-game series in San Francisco with a 6-4 win.  They got some help from walks and an error to take a 5-0 lead, and then hung on in the ninth.

After a quiet first inning, the Pirates put four on the board against Giants’ starter John Curtis in the top of the second.  An error by first baseman Mike Ivie with two aboard let in one run, then Steve Nicosia singled in another.  Curtis walked Pirates starter Don Robinson to load the bases and Omar Moreno singled in two more.

The Bucs extended their lead to 5-0 in the fifth.  Curtis walked Robinson again to start the inning, then departed after also walking Moreno.  Rennie Stennett pinch hit for Tim Foli, who’d been shaken up on a play in the bottom of the fourth, and bunted the runners up.  After an intentional walk, Bill Robinson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Don Robinson threw scoreless ball through five innings despite some shakiness.  He walked one batter in each of the first three innings.  In the fourth he got a break.  Terry Whitfield singled to right with Ivie on second.  When Ivie held third on Bill Robinson’s throw to the plate, Whitfield got caught in a rundown between first and second and was tagged out.

Robinson ran into more trouble in the sixth.  Ivie led off the inning with a home run, then with one out Roger Metzger tripled in two more.  Chuck Tanner brought on Enrique Romo to replace Robinson.  Romo walked the first batter he faced, but fanned Greg Johnston and got Willie McCovey on a fly ball to strand the runner on third.  The final line on Robinson was three runs on six hits and five walks in five and a third innings.

Romo turned in scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, then the Pirates got more help from the Giants in the ninth to extend their lead to 6-3.  Romo led off the inning with a single, his second career hit.  Moreno forced him, then came all the way around on a balk, a ground out and a wild pitch.

Romo stayed on into the ninth, giving up a leadoff hit to Johnston and getting pinch hitter Jack Clark on a grounder that moved Johnston up.  Tanner turned to Kent Tekulve, who got one out but gave up an RBI double to Ivie, making it 6-4.  With left-handed hitters Darrell Evans and Whitfield due up, Tanner brought on Grant Jackson.  After a walk to Evans, Jackson got Whitfield on a fly ball.

The win went to Robinson, who’s now 7-6.  Jackson got his 12th save.  The Pirates had only six hits, but they added seven walks.  Their pitchers reached base three times.  Montreal beat the Reds to stay three games back of the Bucs.  The teams are still even in the loss column, with the Pirates up six in the win column.