When a team is playing poorly, nothing drives the point home quite like a doubleheader. The Padres on a Sunday afternoon played their first of four twinbills over a 16-day stretch. They would lose all eight contests.
In the first game, the two teams exchanged runs early. With the score tied at 1-1, the Pirates pushed across two more tallies in the third on a single, double, balk, and passed ball.
San Diego tied the game in the fourth. After Nate Colbert struck out to lead off the inning, Al Ferrara coaxed a walk from Pittsburgh starter Dock Ellis. Ivan Murrell followed with a homer to make the score 3-3.
Dick Kelley immediately coughed up the lead. Jose Pagan started the fifth with a homer to put the Pirates back on top, 4-3. The Bucs added four more in the ninth off reliever Frank Reberger.
As it happened, those runs would prove useful. In the bottom of the ninth, Murrell tripled to start the frame and scored on a grounder off the bat of Ed Spiezio that second baseman Gene Alley kicked. After Cito Gaston was called out on strikes and Roberto Pena bounced into a fielder’s choice, pinch-hitter John Sipin knocked a double to left that scored Pena. Left-hander Joe Gibbon came on for the Pirates and fanned Chris Cannizzaro to end the game and preserve Pittsburgh’s 7-5 victory.
In the second game, the Pirates pounced on Clay Kirby and Dave Roberts en route to an 8-0 lead after 5 1/2 innings. The big blows were a two-run home run by Roberto Clemente in the fourth and a three-run shot by Pagan the following inning. Pagan’s homer came after Tommy Dean kicked what should have been the final out of the frame.
The Padres, to their credit, didn’t go down without a fight. Ollie Brown led off the sixth with a home run. Gaston doubled home Murrell later in the inning to make the score 8-2.
San Diego added three more in the seventh, courtesy of three singles, a walk, and a run-scoring triple off the bat of Murrell. If Sipin hadn’t rapped into a 5-4-3 double play in the middle of all that, the damage might have been even worse.
The Padres scored again in the ninth on a Brown groundout that brought home pinch-runner Jose Arcia. After Colbert singled, San Diego had a chance to win, but Gibbon replaced right-hander Chuck Hartenstein and retired Murrell and Van Kelly to seal an 8-6 victory, and clinch the sweep for Pittsburgh.