September 27, 1979: Makeshift Pitching Staff Takes a Beating as Pirates Drop Makeup Game to Cards

The Pirates shuffled some pitchers’ roles around in their game at TRS against St. Louis, a one-game series that was a makeup for a rainout two weeks ago.  It didn’t work out well as a string of pitchers gave up 17 hits in a 9-5 loss.

Dave Roberts made his third start with the Pirates and fourth of the season.  He went three innings and gave up three runs, two of them unearned.  After Roberts left for a pinch hitter, John Candelaria came on for his third relief appearance of the year and his first outing in 11 days.  He faced four batters and retired only one.  Another ostensible starter, Don Robinson, relieved and let in an inherited runner and, later, one of his own.

Things didn’t get a lot better after that.  Kent Tekulve and Enrique Romo combined to give up three runs in the eighth and ninth.  The only Pirates’ pitcher who avoided any damage was Dock Ellis, who threw scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh.  George Hendrick and Tony Scott did a lot of damage for the Cards, getting five and four hits, respectively.

After the Bucs fell behind 5-0, the hitters made a game of it for a bit.  Dave Parker got them on the board to start the fourth, hitting his 24th home run of the year off Bob Forsch.  The Cards got that run back, but Omar Moreno and Tim Foli drove in runs in the fifth to make it 6-3.  The Pirates pulled to within a run in the bottom of the seventh when Foli singled in Moreno, who’d doubled, and a second run later scored on an error by shortstop Garry Templeton.

The Pirates couldn’t do any more damage after that, mostly due to Cards reliever Mark Littell.  The Cards meanwhile got their last three off Tekulve and Romo.  That left the final at 9-5.

The loss dropped Roberts to 5-4, 5-2 with the Pirates.  Moreno had three hits.  The Expos were off, so the Pirates’ lead dropped to one game.  They now close the season at home with three games against the Cubs.  Chicago will send Rick Reuschel (18-11, 3.49 ERA), Dennis Lamp (11-10, 3.53) and Lynn McGlothen (13-13, 4.11) against Jim Bibby (11-4, 2.94), Bert Blyleven (12-5, 3.50) and Bruce Kison (12-7, 3.25).

Montreal may or may not close its season with three games at home against Philadelphia.  The Expos have two unplayed games against Atlanta that will be made up if necessary to decide the Eastern Division title.  The Pirates would win the division without those games being played with a combination of four Pirate wins and Expo losses.  For the Expos to win the division without making up at least one game, they’d have to sweep the Phillies while the Cubs swept the Bucs.