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Strong on mound, Pirates silenced at plate

August 20, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' pitching staff continued to showcase its dominance on Monday against the Braves, but another quiet night offensively led to a 1-0 loss at PNC Park. Pittsburgh dropped back down to .500 at 63-63 with the defeat.Monday marked the fifth straight game in which the Pirates allowed

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' pitching staff continued to showcase its dominance on Monday against the Braves, but another quiet night offensively led to a 1-0 loss at PNC Park. Pittsburgh dropped back down to .500 at 63-63 with the defeat.
Monday marked the fifth straight game in which the Pirates allowed just one run, but they have won only two of those contests, as they've been shut out three times. They are the seventh team on record (since 1908) to allow exactly one run in five straight games, and just the second to lose three or more games during that stretch.
"I think we'd all like to score runs," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "From that standpoint, guys are up there battling. [They've] never seen this team with the pitchers, but I think they try to do the best they can with what they've got in the situations. I don't see anybody lost. I don't see anybody confused. I see guys just not getting hits, and maybe [not having] as productive at-bats as you want."

While the offense remained stagnant, Chris Archer appeared to be figuring things out in his second home start with the Pirates. His night was shortened by a precautionary exit from left leg discomfort caused on an awkward swing in the third inning, but the right-hander allowed just one run over four innings while striking out three and walking one.
Archer's lone blemish came in the first inning. Facing Freddie Freeman with two outs, Archer worked Atlanta's slugging first baseman into a 3-2 count before serving up a double to right field. Archer was victimized by two-strike hitting again in the next at-bat, when Nick Markakis ripped a 1-2 offering to right field for an RBI single.

Archer worked around leadoff doubles in the second and third innings before working a perfect fourth frame.
"I minimized damage," Archer said. "I felt like if I didn't do that on the swing, I would've been able to get six, seven, eight more outs, just because I felt good. The ball was coming out. We had a good game plan. Just unfortunate."
When Archer exited, the Pirates turned to their bullpen to stay in the game. The relief crew met the challenge, as left-hander Steven Brault and right-handers Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick and Keone Kela combined for five scoreless innings.

"Ever since I've been here, we've been throwing the ball extremely well," Archer said. "I've learned a lot myself, and the bullpen's really stepped up. Even our position players, we battle until the end."
Pittsburgh continued its comeback effort in the seventh inning, when Adeiny Hechavarria notched a one-out single and later took second base on a wild pitch from Braves right-hander Brad Brach. With two outs, Corey Dickerson lined a single up the middle, prompting Hechavarria to round third and attempt to score. He was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Ender Inciarte on a 95.7-mph throw that kept the Pirates off the board. The Pirates challenged the play, but the call on the field stood.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Making his Major League debut on Monday, 20-year-old Atlanta right-hander Bryse Wilson nearly collected his first career big league hit in the fourth inning. However, after lining a 3-2 pitch from Archer into shallow right field, he was thrown out by Gregory Polanco at first base in a rare 9-3 putout, the third of Polanco's career. Polanco's throw was measured at 97.1 mph.

HE SAID IT
"They're in first place for a reason. They're well balanced. They have some free swingers, they have some guys who'll work the count. They don't strike out a lot, so you have to be aggressive, but you have to make pitches, too. And I think as a whole, for nine innings, we did that." -- Archer, on the Braves
UP NEXT
Right-hander Ivan Nova (7-7, 4.26 ERA) will take the mound against the Braves on Tuesday at PNC Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Nova excelled his last time out despite being on the hook for the loss, allowing one run over 6 2/3 innings against the Cubs. He's 3-0 in three career starts against Atlanta. Right-hander Kevin Gausman (7-9, 4.22 ERA) will start for the Braves.

Mason Wittner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.