July 4, 1979: Stargell, Madlock Hammer Cards

Willie Stargell and Bill Madlock led the offense as the Pirates won a holiday game in St. Louis, 6-4.  The win gave the Bucs the first three games of a four-game series.

Madlock got the Pirates off to a good start in the first against Cards’ starter Pete Vuckovich.  Dave Parker and Pops singled with two out and Madlock doubled to left to drive both in.  Madlock doubled again in the third after the Cobra had walked and stolen second, to pick up his third RBI.  The Bucs continued to add on single runs, with Ed Ott belting his fifth home run in the fourth and Pops his 13th in the fifth.

Meanwhile, Bert Blyleven was working his way out of various jams.  A single and a walk put two on in the bottom of the first, but the Dutchman got a double play grounder.  The Cards got three straight singles with two out in the second, but Parker cut Ken Reitz down at the plate.  Blyleven got another double play in the fourth and stranded two more runners in the sixth.

Things got more lively in the seventh.  In the top of the inning, Stargell went deep again, his 14th, to make it 6-0.  In the bottom half, though, three straight hits to start off brought in a run and chased Blyleven.

Dave Roberts relieved and got George Hendrick to hit into yet another double play.  Things then went south for Roberts, though, as Garry Templeton tripled in a run, and a walk and hit batsman loaded the bases.  Grant Jackson came on to face the left-handed hitting Keith Hernandez, but Hernandez singled in a pair to shrink the Bucs’ lead to 6-4.  Jackson struck out Dane Iorg to end the inning.

All offense stopped cold after that.  Neither team managed a baserunner in the eighth or ninth, which worked fine for the Pirates.  Jackson finished those innings, retiring seven straight after the Hernandez single, to pick up his tenth save.

Blyleven moved to 6-3.  His final line showed nine hits in six-plus innings, but only two runs, one scoring after he left.  Roberts got charged with the other two runs.  Pops had three hits.  The win kept the Pirates five and a half games behind the Expos, who beat the Cubs.  The Bucs are in second, a game ahead of the Phillies and Cubs.

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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.

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