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Bucs top Cards late after Archer battles in debut

Trade Deadline acquisition allows 5 runs (4 earned), fans 6 in 4 1/3 IP; Frazier hits go-ahead RBI single in 8th
August 3, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- For all the buzz around PNC Park on Friday night, Chris Archer didn't dominate in his Pirates debut. But he still found a way to energize the crowd, and the Bucs found a way to win.Archer allowed five runs (four earned) over 4 1/3 innings in his Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- For all the buzz around PNC Park on Friday night, Chris Archer didn't dominate in his Pirates debut. But he still found a way to energize the crowd, and the Bucs found a way to win.
Archer allowed five runs (four earned) over 4 1/3 innings in his Pittsburgh debut, a 7-6 win over the Cardinals. The Pirates' Trade Deadline prize wasn't particularly sharp, but the home crowd of 26,773 nonetheless expressed its support and appreciation to have him on board during Pittsburgh's postseason push with a standing ovation as he left the game in the fifth inning.
"The fans were incredible. I've never pitched in an atmosphere like that," Archer said. "Do I wish I could've done a little bit better? Yeah. But all things considered, how hectic everything's been, for us to pull out a victory on my first game was unbelievable."
Archer's debut may not have gone as planned, but the Pirates gave him a good look at how they've battled to win 17 of their last 22 games. They stranded 16 Cardinals runners, cut down three on the basepaths and sent out five relievers who combined to allow only one run in 4 2/3 innings.

Pittsburgh's deep lineup delivered, too. Starling Marte had three hits, Gregory Polanco drove in three runs, and Adam Frazier led the way from atop the order. Frazier capped a three-hit night with the game-winning single in the eighth off hard-throwing reliever Jordan Hicks.
"Guys stepping up left and right. Unbelievable bullpen," Archer said. "I'm very glad to be a part of this."

Archer hit all the right notes in the days and minutes leading up to his start. He wore an Antonio Brown jersey to the ballpark on Wednesday, his first day with his new club. He talked about his father working a "blue-collar" job, his mother's Steelers fandom and his affection for Andrew McCutchen that prevented him from accepting the Pirates' No. 22 jersey.
As he walked out to the bullpen around 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Archer high-fived fans down the left-field line and tipped his cap to those in the left-field bleachers. He took the mound just before 7:05 p.m., warming up to Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa's "Black And Yellow," as promised.
But Archer's moment was quickly spoiled by Matt Carpenter, who launched his third pitch as a Pirate to center field for a home run. The leadoff hitter reached safely in all five innings against Archer, who was admittedly amped up after a "pretty wild, pretty hectic" week.
"I can say this: I'll be able to slow the game down a lot better next outing than I was today," he said.
Archer ran into trouble in the second inning but finished with a flourish. He gave up one run then found himself with the bases loaded and one out. When Archer ran up a full count against Yadier Molina, the crowd roared to life. Archer fired a slider, up and away, and Molina went down swinging. The crowd once again came to life with two strikes against the next hitter, Paul DeJong. Archer unleashed a slider in the strike zone, and DeJong whiffed to end the inning.

Archer screamed and bounced off the mound, pumping his fist as the fans shouted along with him.
"I can't describe it. It was so much fun, having people rooting for us like that," Archer said. "Unbelievable. I don't know what to say."

But things unraveled in the fifth, in part due to Pittsburgh's defense behind Archer. After Archer walked DeJong, shortstop Jordy Mercer booted a potential double-play grounder. Marte then lost sight of Tyler O'Neill's fly ball to center, and left fielder Frazier's diving attempt was too late. Gyorko and William Fowler laced RBI singles, making it a two-run game and ending Archer's outing, and another run scored when Jose Martinez grounded out against reliever Edgar Santana.
"I'm not going to overcook this one," manager Clint Hurdle said of Archer's performance. "He's pitched one game. We won the game that he started."
Short swing, big hit: Frazier struggled out of the gate this season, hitting just .237 before the Pirates optioned him to Triple-A on June 10. He was called up, sent down and called back up again -- but the way he's hitting now, he might be here to stay.
After Kyle Crick gave up the game-tying run in the eighth, Pittsburgh put men on first and second with two outs. Up came Frazier, who slapped an inside, 101.4-mph sinker from Hicks up the middle to bring home Josh Harrison. It was Frazier's third hit of the day and his 10th in 22 at-bats since rejoining the Pirates on July 25.

"I can live with that. It says a little bit that I'm where I need to be if I can do that on [Hicks]," Frazier said. "Tough pitcher, for sure. Just trying to get my hands inside the ball and luckily found a hole."
Closer Felipe Vazquez, the reigning National League Reliever of the Month for July, picked up his 25th save by pitching a scoreless ninth. Vazquez set the single-season club record for most saves by a left-handed pitcher, breaking his tie with Mike Gonzalez (24 in 2006).

Polanco contributed offensively in the first inning with a two-run triple off the right-field wall, but his finest moment on Friday night came in the field. With Carpenter on second and two outs in the seventh, DeJong hit a single to right field off new Pirates reliever Keone Kela. Polanco gloved the ball after one bounce and fired a 97-mph missile -- Hurdle called it a "rocket throw" -- that took a quick hop to catcher Francisco Cervelli, who easily tagged out Carpenter to preserve Pittsburgh's one-run lead.
"I didn't move. The throw was perfect," Cervelli said. "Probably the best throw he ever had in his life. Amazing."

• Kela fans 1, gets assists from Polanco in debut
"I think you got to get a glimpse of everything. I have no idea what that man had to compartmentalize and work through. Adrenaline, emotion, all of it. At the end of the day, he went out and competed, and that's the thing he's always done. He gave us everything he had." -- Hurdle, on Archer
"Fans brought it. Fans brought the energy, welcoming him. Then for him to get out of those tough jams early, it says a lot about his character and his heart. That's why he's Chris Archer." -- Frazier

Ivan Nova (6-6, 4.33 ERA) will get the ball against the Cardinals at PNC Park on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET. The right-hander earned a no-decision last time out against the Mets, but the Pirates have won each of the last four games Nova has started. Southpaw Austin Gomber (1-0, 3.22 ERA) will start for the Cardinals.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.