October 13, 1979: Bullpen Roughed Up as Pirates Fall Behind, Three Games to One

For the second game in a row, the Pirates took an early lead against Baltimore and then lost the game.  This time, an eighth-inning meltdown by the team’s ostensible strength, its bullpen, cost the Bucs the game.  The Orioles scored six times in that inning to pick up a 9-6 win and take a lead of three games to one.

The Pirates got off to a good start.  Starter Jim Bibby had little trouble in the first two innings, fanning four and allowing just one runner.  In the bottom of the second, Willie Stargell greeted Orioles workhorse Dennis Martinez with his second home run of the series.  A single by John Milner and doubles by Bill Madlock and Ed Ott followed, putting the Pirates up, 3-0.  Phil Garner knocked Martinez out with a single, but Ott was thrown out trying to score on the play.  Garner went to second on the play and scored when Omar Moreno singled off reliever Sammy Stewart, making it 4-0.

Baltimore came back in the top of the third after the leadoff hitter reached on an error by Madlock.  After Stewart fanned, a single and back-to-back doubles by Kiko Garcia and Ken Singleton closed the gap to 4-3, with one of the runs unearned.

The Pirates continued to pound out the hits, finishing the game with 17, but they didn’t take full advantage.  They loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the third on a Tim Foli single, a Stargell double and an intentional walk, but Madlock grounded into a double play.  In the fifth, facing Steve Stone, Foli walked and Parker singled to start the inning.  Milner doubled to drive in one run.  After another intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, though, Ott and Garner failed to get any more in.  In the sixth, a two-out single by Foli and a double by Parker extended the lead to 6-3, but Stargell stranded Parker.

Bibby meanwhile gave the Pirates a good effort, fanning seven over six and a third innings.  He faced just one hitter over the minimum in the fourth through the sixth, with the help of a pair of double plays.  Bibby finally left in the seventh after a pair of one-out singles.  Grant Jackson ended the threat by getting Al Bumbry to hit into the third twin-killing turned by the Bucs.

In the eighth, things came apart, in large part due to Earl Weaver’s decision to save his left-handed hitters to face Kent Tekulve.  Don Robinson started the inning, but left after loading the bases with one out on two singles and a walk.  Chuck Tanner called for Teke and Weaver countered with three straight left-handed pinch hitters.  John Lowenstein doubled to score two runs.  The Pirates walked the switch-hitting Billy Smith to load the bases and Weaver turned to Terry Crowley.  The result was another two-run double, putting Baltimore up, 7-6.  Weaver decided to stick with pitcher Tim Stoddard, who’d thrown a scoreless bottom of the seventh, and Stoddard responded with his first hit in the major leagues, a bouncer past Madlock that drove in Smith.  Crowley stopped at third, but scored when Bumbry hit into a force play.  The six runs, three each charged to Robinson and Tekulve, put the Orioles up, 9-6.

The Pirates continued to get hits, but they didn’t produce anything.  Moreno singled with two outs in the eighth off Stoddard.  In the ninth, Stargell and Madlock both singled, but Ott fanned to end the game.  Foli and Stargell each had three hits and five other Pirates had two apiece, but Stoddard came through for the Orioles, throwing three scoreless innings to finish the game.

The series continues tomorrow at Three Rivers.  Jim Rooker, who was just 4-7 with a 4.60 ERA, will start for the Pirates.  He’s the only pitcher on their post-season staff who posted a losing record during the regular season.  Baltimore will counter with 23-game winner Mike Flanagan, who threw a complete game win against the Pirates in game one.  Only three teams have won a World Series after falling behind three games to one.  The first one to do it was the 1925 Pirates.  The others were the 1958 Yankees and 1968 Tigers.