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Ngoepe has big offensive night in 1st start

Special to MLB.com

MIAMI -- Gift Ngoepe, the first player from Africa to reach the Major Leagues, made his first start a memorable one on Friday in the Pirates' 12-2 win over the Marlins. The second baseman, who moved to shortstop late in the game, batted eighth in the order and reached base all four times.

Officially, he was 3-for-3 with two singles and a triple, and scored twice. He also drew a pair of walks. Ngoepe made his Major League debut on Wednesday with a single off Cubs left-hander Jon Lester in his first at-bat.

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MIAMI -- Gift Ngoepe, the first player from Africa to reach the Major Leagues, made his first start a memorable one on Friday in the Pirates' 12-2 win over the Marlins. The second baseman, who moved to shortstop late in the game, batted eighth in the order and reached base all four times.

Officially, he was 3-for-3 with two singles and a triple, and scored twice. He also drew a pair of walks. Ngoepe made his Major League debut on Wednesday with a single off Cubs left-hander Jon Lester in his first at-bat.

View Full Game Coverage

Before the game, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he was infusing some defense at second base in his decision to give Ngoepe his first Major League start.

"That's it exactly," Hurdle said.

But Ngoepe injected some offense as well in a most productive night. He said that given the whirlwind he's been on the last couple of days, controlling his emotions is the key at this point.

"I'm driving on adrenaline right now," Ngoepe said before Friday's game. "So I just have to calm myself as much as possible and just breathe. Make sure my heart is not beating a thousand beats per minute and just go out there and do my thing.

"I knew when I signed my contract and getting to the big leagues and being the first one from the whole continent and country that all this publicity is going to happen, but it must not change me."

Remaining the same person that he was prior to making the big leagues is also a prime focus.

"That's the theme, just being who you are," he said. "Everybody is excited for me, so I'm excited for myself. Just being here is a phenomenal time for me."

But with each passing day, Ngoepe said he feels less and less pressure.

"You get to know the guys and they kind of bring you in," Ngoepe said. "That makes it a lot easier." Video: CHC@PIT: Freese lines RBI single to right field

Freese dealing with hamstring soreness

For the third consecutive game, David Freese was not in the starting lineup for the Pirates when they opened a three-game series on Friday at Marlins Park.

Freese, who hit his third homer of the season last Saturday and had reached base safely in 16 of his 18 games, hit in the cage before Friday's game with the Marlins and took batting practice as well as putting in some infield work.

But right hamstring soreness has kept him out of the starting lineup since tweaking it in Monday's game with the Cubs. Freese missed first base on a hit down the line and that's when he felt it tighten up.

"I was trying to decide whether I was going to go to [second base] based on Ben Zobrist's throw," Freese said. "So I missed the bag and ... stopped to get back, and kind of tweaked it a little."

Josh Harrison started at third base on Friday. Freese was on the lineup card as an available player off the bench but did not get into the game.

"My name is on there, so for the Marlins I'm available," Freese said.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Friday.

Pittsburgh Pirates, David Freese, Gift Ngoepe