In game one of their Labor Day doubleheader with the Phillies at TRS, the Pirates were held to one hit by Phillies ace Steve Carlton and reliever Tug McGraw. After dropping the 2-0 decision, though, the Bucs came back to take a 7-3 win in the second game.
Facing Carlton must have been even tougher than usual considering that the Pirates played yesterday afternoon in San Francisco. Their hitters barely made a dent. For the first five innings, their only runner came on a one-out walk to Willie Stargell in the second. They didn’t get a hit, or a runner to second, until Steve Nicosia led off the bottom of the sixth with a double. That didn’t help at all, because Nicosia’s pinch runner, Matt Alexander, got himself picked off second. Omar Moreno walked with two outs in the inning, but he got caught stealing.
Those three runners were all the Pirates got. Carlton set the side down in order in the seventh, then McGraw did the same in the eighth and ninth. The Pirates sent only 28 men to the plate, one over the minimum, in the game.
A good start from Bert Blyleven got wasted in the process. Blyleven went six, allowing six hits and no walks. All he allowed until the fifth was three, two-out singles. In that inning, he gave up three singles. The last one, with two outs, drove in Carlton, who’d reached on a force play. That was the only run the Dutchman allowed, but he took the loss, dropping to 11-5.
Enrique Romo threw the last three innings for the Pirates. He gave up a run in the eighth on a single, a sacrifice, a fly ball and a balk.
The second game was a different story. It stayed close, tied 1-1, until the fifth. The Pirates picked up a run off Randy Lerch in the second on singles by Bill Robinson and Bill Madlock, a sacrifice, and a Dale Berra RBI grounder. Berra was still filling in at short for Tim Foli, although Foli appeared as a pinch hitter in game one. The Phillies tied the game in the third when Pete Rose led off against Jim Rooker with a home run. Rooker, just off the disabled list, was making his first start since August 11.
The Pirates took control in the fifth. With one out, Berra homered for the third time on the season. Nicosia then singled and Rooker bunted, but the Phillies didn’t get anybody. A double by Omar Moreno scored one and Phil Garner singled in two more to put the Pirates ahead, 5-1.
The Phillies couldn’t get anything else going against Rooker until the seventh. He gave up three singles in the inning, the last with two out to Rose, making the score 5-2. Kent Tekulve relieved to get the last out. Rooker went six and two-thirds, allowing the two runs on six hits and three walks.
The Pirates stretched it to 7-2 in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Doug Bird. Lee Lacy walked, stole second and came around to score when catcher Bob Boone threw the ball away. Two more walks set up an RBI single by Berra, giving him three RBIs on the day.
Teke finished the game out. The Phillies got a run in the ninth on a triple by Larry Bowa and a single. Rooker got the win to improve to 3-6. Teke got his 25th save.
Montreal swept a doubleheader from the Mets, giving them seven straight wins. That cut the Pirates’ NL East lead to two and a half games. Oddly, the Expos are one ahead in the loss column.