September 16, 1979: Pirates Can’t Handle Pete Falcone, Lose to Mets, 3-0

The game seemed like a mismatch.  The Pirates sent their best pitcher, John Candelaria, with a 14-8 record and 3.12 ERA, against lefty Pete Falcone who came in 5-13 with a 4.28 ERA.  Things didn’t go as planned, though, with the Mets winning, 3-0.

The Pirates didn’t mount any major threats.  Dave Parker doubled with two out in the bottom of the first, but after a walk to Bill Robinson, Falcone struck out Lee Lacy.  Phil Garner got another two-out double in the third, but Parker popped out.

The Pirates didn’t get another runner past first until Steve Nicosia and Dale Berra singled with one out in the seventh.  Falcone, though, got John Milner and Omar Moreno on grounders.

Candelaria, starting on three days’ rest, didn’t pitch badly.  A double by Elliott Maddox and a single by Lee Mazzilli got the Mets a run in the first.  Dan Norman belted a two-out home run in the fourth to make it 2-0.  Candelaria exited for a pinch hitter in the fifth.

Jim Bibby took over for two scoreless innings in the sixth.  After he left for a pinch hitter, Kent Tekulve came on for the eighth.  Teke gave up a run on a two-out, RBI double by Joel Youngblood to put the Mets ahead, 3-0.

The Pirates finally got rid of Falcone in the ninth.  Lacy singled and Bill Madlock walked to bring the tying run to the plate.  The Mets went with Neil Allen and the Pirates brought on two pinch hitters, but they couldn’t break through.  Mike Easler hit into a force out and Willie Stargell grounded into a double play to end the game.

Candelaria fell to 14-9 with the loss.  The Expos split another doubleheader, leaving the teams in another virtual tie for first.  Montreal has one less win and one less loss, and leads the Pirates by one percentage point.

The Pirates now take to the road for a very big, two-game series in Montreal.  They’ll send Don Robinson (7-6, 4.12 ERA) and Bruce Kison (10-7, 3.46) against Montreal ace Steve Rogers (13-9, 2.81) and Spaceman Bill Lee (15-10, 3.09).  Rogers has faced the Pirates three times this year and posted complete-game wins all three times.  Two of the wins were shutouts, one of those a one-hitter.