The Pirates lost to Cincinnati by the same score as yesterday, 6-5. This time the defeat came in the 10th inning. It was the Pirates’ third straight loss following a nine-game winning streak.
The home team got a better effort from its starter than yesterday, when Bruce Kison lasted just a third of an inning. John Candelaria went eight, allowing seven hits and a walk. Unfortunately, three of the hits left the yard. Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench hit back-to-back homers in the first, and Bench hit another solo shot in the eighth.
In between, the Candy Man mostly breezed. The exception was the top of the third, when two singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly gave the Reds two runs.
The runs in the third gave Cincinnati a 4-1 lead. The Pirates’ only run to that point off Tom Seaver came in the second. Rennie Stennett drew a bases-loaded walk following singles by Willie Stargell and Bill Madlock, and an infield single by Phil Garner. With one out and the bases loaded, the Bucs could have had more, but Candelaria lined into a double play.
The Bucs kept after Seaver, getting a second run in the fourth when Garner doubled with two out and Stennett singled him home. In the fifth, they scored three times to take a 5-4 lead. Omar Moreno led off the inning by reaching on a Morgan error. John Milner, batting second with Tim Foli getting a rest, then clubbed his tenth home run of the year and fourth in the past week.
After Milner tied the game, the Pirates loaded the bases on a single by Dave Parker, a double by Pops and an intentional walk to Ed Ott. Garner lofted a sacrifice fly that brought Parker home, but Ott was caught trying to advance to second.
Neither team managed another runner until the bottom of the seventh. With Seaver gone for a pinch hitter, Milner singled off Dave Tomlin and Parker hit into a force play. Stargell doubled, but Parker was thrown out at the plate.
Candelaria held the one-run lead until Bench’s second homer tied the game, 5-5, in the top of the eighth. Rennie Stennett hit for Candelaria in the bottom half and Kent Tekulve took over.
Neither team broke through in the ninth, but to start the top of the tenth, Teke gave up back-to-back doubles to Dave Collins and Hector Cruz. He escaped further damage after intentionally walking Morgan by fanning Bench and Dave Concepcion, and getting Ray Knight on a grounder.
The damage was done, though. In the bottom of the tenth the Pirates could manage only a two-out single by Garner off Doug Bair.
Teke took the loss to fall to 3-6. The Pirates had 14 hits, three each by Milner, Stargell and Garner, but they stranded nine and had two runners thrown out on the bases. The Expos won and the Cubs lost, so the Bucs remain in second by half a game, two games out of first.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.