The Pirates split a doubleheader in Cincinnati. The first game was a 4-2 loss, their fourth straight and third straight to the Reds. They salvaged a win in game two, as strong pitching by Bert Blyleven and the bullpen set up a go-ahead, ninth-inning home run by Willie Stargell.
John Candelaria took the game one loss because of one bad inning. He set the Reds down without a run through three innings. In the fourth, though, two hits put two on with one out to Dan Driessen, who pulled a three-run shot to right.
The Pirates had taken their first lead of the series in the second against Fred Norman. Lee Lacy, Rennie Stennett and Candelaria all singled, the Candy Man’s hit driving in Lacy. They had only two more hits, though, until Dave Parker launched his 15th home run off Norman in the top of the eighth. The Cobra had also singled and doubled earlier, giving him three of the Pirates’ eight hits in the game.
Parker’s longball still left the Bucs down by two. After the Pirates hit for Candelaria in the seventh, Kent Tekulve gave up an RBI single to Norman in the bottom of the inning. Norman finished the game, giving up a two-out single to Stargell in the ninth. A ground out by Omar Moreno ended the game.
Candelaria finished with three runs allowed over six innings. His record fell to 7-7.
In game two, the Pirates got a quick lead in the top of the first. Moreno doubled, went to third on a bunt by Tim Foli and scored on a grounder by the Cobra.
That was all the Bucs could do, though, against Tom Hume. He went eight innings, allowing just six hits. The Pirates got singles in each inning from the second through the fifth, and another in the eighth, but couldn’t do anything with them.
Blyleven pitched just as well, giving up just five hits over seven innings. The Reds nearly tied the game in the second, loading the bases with nobody out on two hits and a walk. Catcher Vic Correll flied to right and Parker threw to third trying to get Ray Knight. Knight went for the plate and Bill Madlock threw to Ed Ott to get the out.
Blyleven retired the side in the third through the fifth, but the Reds tied the game in the sixth. Ken Griffey led off with a double and came around to score on a pair of fly balls.
The game remained tied, 1-1, through eight innings. The Pirates hit for Blyleven in the top of the inning and Grant Jackson retired the Reds in order in the bottom half, including a pinch hitter for Hume.
That brought it to the ninth. The Reds sent out Dave Tomlin and, with one out, Pops belted his 15th home run to right to make it 2-1.
In the bottom half, Jackson walked Joe Morgan to start the inning. Chuck Tanner stuck with Jackson against the left-handed Driessen and Jackson induced a double play grounder. With the Reds brought up the right-handed George Foster to pinch hit, Tanner went to Tekulve. Teke walked Foster, but got Cesar Geronimo on a grounder to end the losing streak.
Jackson got the win to move to 5-2. Teke got his 11th save. The Pirates avoided a four-game sweep and are now in fourth place, seven games behind Montreal. They’ll continue their 14-game road trip as they move on to Houston for three.
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.