October 2, 1979: Stargell Blast Gives Pirates Extra-Inning Win in NLCS Opener

The Pirates took the opener of their NL Championship Series on an 11th-inning home run by Willie Stargell.  The blast gave them a 5-2 win over the Reds in Cincinnati.

Much of the game, not surprisingly, was a pitching duel between the Reds’ Tom Seaver and the Bucs’ John Candelaria.  Each pitcher allowed just two runs and five hits, Seaver over eight innings and Candelaria over seven.

Neither team got on the board in the first two innings, although the Reds had a shot in the second.  Johnny Bench hit a one-out triple, but Candelaria fanned Ray Knight and Dan Driessen.

The Pirates opened the scoring in the third when Phil Garner led off with an opposite field home run.  They added a second run when right fielder Dave Collins let Omar Moreno’s liner get by him for a triple.  Tim Foli brought Moreno in with a fly to right.  The Reds got that back in the bottom of the fourth when Dave Concepcion singled and George Foster went deep.

From there, the score stayed 2-2 with minimal action, as both starters were on their games.  From the fifth through the seventh, Candelaria allowed just a two-out walk to Foster in the sixth.  Seaver gave up only a one-out single to Foli in the fifth, and that was wiped out on a double play.

The Reds finally mounted a threat when Enrique Romo replaced Candelaria for bottom of the eighth.  Collins singled with one out and stole second, and Romo walked Joe Morgan.  Chuck Tanner brought in Kent Tekulve and Teke got a double play grounder from Concepcion.

Tekulve and Reds’ ace reliever Tom Hume threw scoreless ball in the ninth.  The only runner was Bench, who walked but got caught stealing by Ed Ott.  Hume also held the Pirates scoreless in the tenth and Grant Jackson did the same to the Reds in the bottom half.

Hume came back out for the 11th and maybe shouldn’t have.  Foli and Dave Parker started the inning with singles.  Pops then hit Hume’s first pitch into the seats in right-center to put the Pirates up, 5-2.

The bottom of the 11th started off inconspicuously, as Jackson retired the first two batters.  A single by Concepcion and a walk to Foster, though, brought the tying run to the plate.  Tanner went with Don Robinson, normally a starter, to face Bench, and Robinson walked him to load the bases.  Next up was Ray Knight, and Robinson fanned him to end the game.

Jackson got the win and Robinson the save.  Game two tomorrow will pit the Pirates’ Jim Bibby against Frank Pastore for the Reds.