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Comic relief? Kramer, Newman step in for Bucs

Duo has become familiar with each other through Minors
MLB.com @adamdberry

ST. LOUIS -- Clint Hurdle's son, Christian, has gotten into watching a couple of 1990s sitcoms over the past year, including "Seinfeld." So Christian is like any number of fans who find it "hilarious," as Hurdle said, that the Pirates have a pair of rookie infielders named Kramer and Newman.

No, that's not why they were both in the lineup on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- Clint Hurdle's son, Christian, has gotten into watching a couple of 1990s sitcoms over the past year, including "Seinfeld." So Christian is like any number of fans who find it "hilarious," as Hurdle said, that the Pirates have a pair of rookie infielders named Kramer and Newman.

No, that's not why they were both in the lineup on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

Kevin Kramer started at second base and Kevin Newman returned to shortstop against Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas, the first time the 2015 Draft duo started together in the Majors. They each went 1-for-4 with an RBI, as Kramer drove in Corey Dickerson and Newman ripped an RBI double to bring home Kramer as the Pirates rallied for four runs in the ninth inning of their 11-5 loss.

• Kramer, Newman provide 'Seinfeld' moment in dugout

"It was pretty neat for us to see that in the lineup, then obviously to do it out there was cool, too," Kramer said. "The only difference is sometimes you can't hear each other as much as you can in the Minor Leagues. That's something that we're going to have to figure out a little bit."

Video: PIT@STL: Kramer laces an RBI single to right

Pittsburgh's homegrown double-play tandem could get a few more chances to get acclimated this month as the Pirates evaluate their infield options for next season.

"They've done it before, so they're pretty comfortable with it," Hurdle said. "They'll get to do it here. We'll see how comfortable they are with it here. It's really good experience against the level of team we're playing, and for them to play together is important as well. It's all part of their growth."

Newman is going to get most of the starts at shortstop along with veteran Jordy Mercer. Right fielder Gregory Polanco's season-ending injuries could create more playing time for Kramer, as Adam Frazier will now bounce between second base and right field the rest of the way. The Pirates want to see Frazier settle in at second base, where he might start next year, but he started the past two games in right.

That opened up an opportunity on Tuesday for Kramer, who has played up the middle with Newman since they were taken out of the Pac-12 Conference (Newman from Arizona, Kramer from UCLA) with two of the Pirates' first three picks in the 2015 Draft.

They got to know each other quickly, as they became roommates when they made their professional debut with Class A Short Season West Virginia, and they climbed through the Minors together before reaching the Majors this year.

"We know how to communicate with each other, which is I think the most important thing," Kramer said. "We know what each other is thinking on certain plays. We've talked about different plays so much that we know where to put the ball. We know what we like.

"I think a lot of it is not even game stuff, but just during the game, we're able to keep each other loose. We can banter back and forth between pitches. We know how to keep each other loose, like, 'Hey, you're good, man. We'll be fine.' We know how to pick each other up, too, which I think is important as well."

Video: MIA@PIT: Kramer singles for his first MLB hit

Around the horn
• Reliever Keone Kela has not pitched since Sept. 3 and was not available on Tuesday as the Pirates continue to rest the right-hander as a way to manage his workload. Kela has pitched 52 innings in 54 appearances this season after logging fewer than 40 innings each of the past two years.

Kela threw 60 1/3 innings over 68 appearances as a rookie in 2015. Since then, he has missed time due to a bone spur in his right elbow (2016) and right shoulder soreness (2017). Hurdle noted that the 25-year-old has worked high-leverage innings this season. The Pirates typically believe those high-stress situations lead to greater fatigue.

"We're just trying to be mindful of his development," Hurdle said.

• Right-hander Chad Kuhl (forearm strain) threw on flat ground but not off the mound on Tuesday. Kuhl has been out since June, but the Pirates have been optimistic that he will pitch in a competitive environment at some point this year.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Kevin Kramer, Kevin Newman