July 29, 1979: Pirates Drop Back to Second With Loss to Expos

The Pirates missed a chance to complete a four-game sweep in Montreal, losing the final game, 5-3.  The loss dropped them back into second, half a game behind the Expos.

For the second start in a row, Bruce Kison had a first inning meltdown.  The last time he lasted only a third of an inning, while this time he hung on for six.

Things unraveled quickly after a leadoff double in the bottom of the first by Warren Cromartie.  After a sacrifice, three straight singles drove in a run and left the bases loaded.  Andre Dawson unloaded them with a triple.  Kison kept the score 4-0 by getting an out on a comebacker.  Dawson then got caught trying to steal home.

Kison settled in after that, facing the minimum from the second through the fifth.  He allowed one more run in his last inning, the sixth, when Rodney Scott tripled and Rusty Staub singled.

The Pirates made a little headway against Montreal ace Steve Rogers.  Omar Moreno got them on the board in the third, driving in Phil Garner, who’d doubled.  The Bucs got another run in the fourth, but could have had more.  Dave Parker singled and Willie Stargell doubled to start the inning, putting runners on second and third for John Milner.  A single by Milner scored Parker and left runners at the corners, but that was all the Pirates got.  Bill Madlock and Garner popped up, and in between Ed Ott fanned.

The Pirates never really threatened in the fifth through the eighth.  After the Expos got their last run off Kison, the score stayed 5-2 until the ninth.  Stargell led off with his 21st home run of the season.  Rogers stayed on, though, and got the last three outs while allowing just a single by Madlock.

The loss dropped Kison to 6-6.  The Cubs also lost, so they remain a game behind the Bucs.  Tomorrow the Pirates will be back home to face the Mets in a two-game series.  John Candelaria (9-7, 3.45 ERA) and Bert Blyleven (9-3, 3.56) will face Craig Swan (9-9, 3.06) and Tom Hausman (1-5, 2.29).

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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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