September 19,1979: Pirates Split With Phillies, Lead Drops to One Game

The Pirates split a doubleheader with the Phillies in Philadelphia.  They rallied for eight runs late in the first game to pick up a 9-6 win.  In the second game, though, they couldn’t hold an early four-run lead and lost, 6-5.

Both teams had plenty of early opportunities in game one, but didn’t take a lot of advantage.  Pirates’ starter Bert Blyleven gave up eight hits over five innings, but only two runs.  Phillies’ starter Nino Espinosa walked seven and allowed four hits over six and two-thirds, but the Pirates got only one run off him.

Philly got the early lead with a run in the first.  Pete Rose and Manny Trillo singled to start the inning, Bake McBride bunted them up and Mike Schmidt brought in a run with a sacrifice fly.  The Pirates had a chance to come back in the top of the second when they loaded the bases with one out on two walks and an error.  Blyleven, however, hit into a double play.

The Phillies got another run in the third when Rose and Trillo led off with singles again.  A wild pitch moved them up and Rose scored when McBride grounded out.

Each team stranded a pair in the fourth, then the Pirates closed to 2-1 in the fifth when Tim Foli belted his first home run of the season.  They ran into more frustration in the sixth.  Bill Madlock led off with a double, but got thrown out trying to advance on Ed Ott’s fly out to left.  The double play was costly, as Phil Garner doubled and Mike Easler, batting for Blyleven, couldn’t get him in.

Enrique Romo replaced Blyleven and, after a scoreless sixth, had a rough seventh.  The Phillies loaded the bases on a hit and two walks, one intentional, the latter to McBride with Schmidt due up.  The strategy failed as Schmidt launched a grand slam to put the Phillies up, 6-1.

The Phillies turned to Tug McGraw for the eighth.  The Bucs, especially their left-handed hitters, have been very rough on McGraw all year and this game was no different.  They started the inning with four straight singles.  John Milner, Madlock and Ott loaded the bases, and Garner drove in Milner.  After one out, Omar Moreno hit into a force play to drive in Madlock.  Ott tried to score on the unsuccessful relay to first and was safe on an error by catcher Dave Rader.  That cut the Phillies’ lead to 6-4.

The Bucs almost couldn’t keep it close in the bottom of the eighth.  Dave Roberts gave up a pair of one-out hits, putting runners on first and second.  Chuck Tanner brought in Kent Tekulve, who picked Larry Bowa off second, then got out of the inning.

In the ninth, the Pirates’ left-handed batters continued to batter McGraw.  Dave Parker led off with a double and Willie Stargell singled to drive him in.  Pops’ pinch runner, Matt Alexander, stole second and went to third on a grounder by Milner.  The Phillies, still apparently unaware of McGraw’s career reverse platoon split, turned to Rawly Eastwick to face Madlock.  He singled to tie the game.  When Mad Dog stole second, the Phillies walked Ott.  Garner flied out, but Manny Sanguillen, batting for Teke, tripled to put the Bucs ahead, 8-6.  Omar Moreno singled in Sangy to make it 9-6.  Moreno got the Pirates’ third steal of the inning before it ended.  It was his second of the game and 72nd of the season.

Grant Jackson didn’t make it easy in the bottom of the ninth, walking two, but he got the last out on a fly ball.  Teke got the win to go 10-7 and Jackson got his 14th save.

In game two, it was the Pirates who got an early lead against Dan Larson, who was making his second start after a recent callup.  They got three in the first; Parker drove in one with a double and Milner another with a single.  The third run scored on an error by second baseman Trillo.  They made it 4-0 in the top of the fourth when Garner singled, moved up on a steal and a bunt by Jim Bibby, and scored on a single by Moreno.

Bibby had been cruising up to that point, retiring the first nine batters he faced.  In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies got on the board when three singles loaded the bases and Greg Luzinski hit a sacrifice fly.  The Pirates got that run back in the top of the fifth when Madlock singled in Parker.  That put them up, 5-1.

Bibby couldn’t make the lead stand up.  In the bottom of the fifth, he gave up a two-run bomb to pinch hitter Del Unser.  He left in the sixth after a walk and a double put runners on second and third with one out.  Romo replaced him and continued his bad day, failing to retire anybody.  Two singles tied the game, 5-5, and a walk loaded the bases.  Jackson relieved and got a force out, but a run scored, putting the Phillies up, 6-5.  Bibby’s day ended with five runs allowed in five and a third innings.

Jackson kept the Phillies off the board after that, although Teke had to get the third out in the eighth to leave the bases loaded.  The Pirates, though, couldn’t come back.  They got a runner to third with one out in the seventh, but didn’t score, then went down in order in the eighth and ninth.

Romo took the loss to drop to 10-5.  Montreal swept a doubleheader from the Mets, cutting the Pirates’ division lead to one game.