Going into today, Expos ace Steve Rogers had faced the Pirates four times. He’d gone 33 innings, allowing seven runs and winning three times. So, at best, you’d hope for a pitchers’ duel like the Pirates’ only win over Rogers, a 2-1 game nine days ago. Instead, the Pirates stomped the Expos, 10-1, to give them three wins in the teams’ critical four-game series at TRS. The Pirates now lead the division by a game and a half.
The Bucs didn’t exactly bomb Rogers, but they got enough of a lead to get him out of the game early. They got a quick run in the bottom of the first when Omar Moreno singled, stole his 73rd base of the year, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Tim Foli.
Phil Garner made it 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth with his 11th home run of the year, scoring Bill Madlock, who’d singled. That had the added benefit of getting rid of Rogers, who left for a pinch hitter in the top of the fifth.
Bruce Kison, meanwhile, continued his strong, late-season run. He gave up harmless, two-out singles in each of the first three innings, then a leadoff single in the fourth, which produced nothing. A pair of two-out singles in the fifth also went for naught for Montreal.
The Pirates put the game on ice in the bottom of the sixth against three Montreal relievers. Two walks set up a two-run double by Ed Ott, who then scored on a double by Garner. After an out, Moreno singled to make the score 7-0.
Kison gave up a leadoff home run to Chris Speier in the seventh, but retired the next three batters in the inning. In the eight and ninth, all he allowed was a two-out walk in each inning.
The Pirates added on some more in the bottom of the seventh. With two on and two out, Kison singled in a run. Moreno walked and Foli singled in two more.
Kison allowed seven hits in throwing a complete game. The win leaves him 12-7. The Pirates had 14 hits. Madlock got on base five times, going 3-for-3 with two walks. He and Garner scored three times each, and Garner and Foli each drove in three runs.
The Pirates have four games left in the regular season. The first is a makeup game tomorrow at TRS against St. Louis. Bob Forsch (10-11, 2.77 ERA) will start for the Cards, while Dave Roberts (5-3, 2.90) will make a spot start for the Pirates. The Cubs will then come to Pittsburgh for the final three games.
The Expos’ schedule is more complicated. They’re off tomorrow, then play three games at home against Philadelphia. They also have two games remaining against Atlanta from earlier rainouts that aren’t currently scheduled. Those games will only be played if the Pirates haven’t clinched the division by season’s end. With a lead of a game and a half, it’ll take some combination of Expos’ losses and Pirates’ wins totaling at least four to give the Pirates the division and make the Expos’ games against the Braves unnecessary.