Game Rewind: Pirates vs Padres, July 16, 1978; Game Two

On July 16, 1978, the Pittsburgh Pirates took on the San Diego Padres in a doubleheader at Three Rivers Stadium. The Pirates took the first game by a 3-2 score in ten innings. The decisions in that game went to two guys who picked up one out each. Ed Whitson recorded the final out of the top of the tenth, then Hall of Fame Rollie Fingers got one out before giving up a walk-off bases loaded single to John Milner. The Padres had two other Hall of Famers play that game, with Ozzie Smith and Dave Winfield both in the lineup. They also used a group of former and future Pirates in Fernando Gonzalez, Gene Tenace, Bill Almon and starting pitcher Bob Owchinko.

At the time of the second game, the Pirates had a 42-43 record. They would go 46-30 over the rest of the season, then win it all during the 1979 season. The Padres were in their tenth season as a franchise and still looking for their first .500 or better season. They were 44-47 going into this game. They did well after this game too, going 40-31 over the rest of the season. They were looking to split the the doubleheader in front of 16,303 fans, and it looked like that was possible early in the contest.

This game two included two players competing with recent injuries, one more famous than the other. I’m sure many of you have seen the famous photos of Dave Parker face masks/goalie mask he wore for a brief time in 1978. This game was his first game back in the field from the injury he suffered just 15 days earlier in a home plate collision. He returned to the team that day and pinch-hit in the opener. The other injury return was a quicker comeback. Padres second baseman Fernando Gonzalez fractured his nose late in the first game in an outfield collision on defense. He had his nose set in between games and was back in the starting lineup for game two.

The starting pitchers for game two were 24-year-old lefty Bob Shirley for the Padres, and veteran lefty Jerry Reuss for the Pirates. The Padres got two hits in the top of the first, but it was the Pirates who got on the board first in this game.

Reuss gave up singles to Ozzie Smith and Don Reynolds with one out in the first, but he got Dave Winfield to hit into an inning-ending double play. The Pirates had Frank Taveras batting lead-off and he reached on an infield single, then moved to third on a balk and a stolen base. Omar Moreno walked, but he was caught stealing. A ground out by Dave Parker scored Taveras with the first run of the game.

The Padres tied the game up in the second inning when Gene Tenace hit a solo homer. Reuss retired the other three batters in the inning. The Pirates got second inning walks from Phil Garner and Ken Macha, but they were left stranded when Reuss struck out to end the inning.

In the third, Reuss allowed a one out single to lead-off hitter Gene Richards, who stole second base. That was all for the Padres in the inning. The Pirates took the lead in the third on a single by Taveras, who stole second base, then scored on a two-run homer from Bill Robinson.

In the fourth frame, the Padres changed the tide of the game and knocked Reuss in the process. He walked Winfield, then gave up a double to Fernando Gonzalez, followed by a three-run homer from Tenace, his second bomb of the game. Reuss got the next two outs, but a single by the opposing pitcher, followed by a walk to Richards, led to a bullpen call from Chuck Tanner. Ed Whitson came on for the second time that day and he immediately walked Ozzie Smith and Don Reynolds, before getting Winfield to strike out to end the inning.

The Pirates got a single from Macha, though that was it for them in the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Tenace walked and Dave Roberts singled (side note: this wasn’t the Dave Roberts who played for the 1966 Pirates or the one who joined the Pirates in 1979 either). Bill Almon grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Taveras tripled to start the bottom of the fifth, then scored on a Moreno ground out. Bill Robinson also reached in the inning on a walk, but the frame ended with a 5-4 deficit for the Pirates.

The Padres went down in order in the sixth, then the Pirates got on the board again in the bottom of the inning. Phil Garner doubled to start the frame. After two outs, Rennie Stennett pinch-hit for Whitson and singled in a run. Jim Rooker pinch-ran for Stennett, then Taveras grounded out to end the inning. Grant Jackson took over the pitching in the seventh with the score tied.

In the seventh, Jackson gave up a double to Don Reynolds that started the frame. Dave Winfield followed with a single that Jackson tried to score on, but he was cut down at the plate, with the outfield assist to Parker via Garner to Ed Ott to complete the play. Winfield stole second and third, then scored on a single from Tenace to give him five RBIs and a the Padres a 6-5 lead.

That lead didn’t last long for the visitors. Moreno walked to start the bottom of the seventh, which knocked Shirley out of the game. Reliever Dennis Kinney allowed an RBI triple to Parker to tie the game. Mark Lee, who joined the Pirates in a trade two years later, relieved Kinney after he faced one batter. Lee got Bill Robinson to pop out, then Willie Stargell pinch-hit for first baseman Manny Sanguillen. He was walked, and then Phil Garner flied out to center field for the second out. With two outs and runners on the corners, the Pirates broke the game open. A double from Ed Ott, followed by singles by Macha and Jackson led to four runs scoring, with a little help from an error on the Macha single. The Pirates led 10-6 after seven innings.

Roberts singled off of Jackson to start the eighth, but he was thrown out by Robinson out in left field when he tried to stretch it into a double. Jackson walked a batter, but that was it for the eighth. In the bottom of the eighth, Moreno walked and stole second, though that’s as far as he got before the inning ended.

In the ninth, Reynolds and Winfield put two runners in scoring position with one out, when they collected a single and a double. That brought out Kent Tekulve, who was pitching for a fourth straight day, with 4.2 innings total over the previous three games. He had to face Broderick Perkins and Gene Tenace, who already had three big hits in the game. Perkins struck out, giving Tekulve some breathing room with Tenace, who grounded out to third base to end the game. Tekulve picked up his 15th save on the ninth anniversary of his signing with the Pirates as an amateur free agent. He ended up pitching 1.2 innings the next day as well, giving him five appearances and seven innings pitched in five days.

Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.