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Pirates face decision on Kingham after off-day

Pittsburgh's outfield among best in Majors at plate through first month
Special to MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and his coaching staff will take a few more days before deciding what's next for Nick Kingham.

The right-hander followed up his historic Major League debut with another strong effort Friday night at Milwaukee, striking out seven with just one walk over 5 1/3 innings of the Pirates' 6-4 victory at Miller Park. Kingham came undone in the sixth inning, though, allowing three Brewers runs.

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MILWAUKEE -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and his coaching staff will take a few more days before deciding what's next for Nick Kingham.

The right-hander followed up his historic Major League debut with another strong effort Friday night at Milwaukee, striking out seven with just one walk over 5 1/3 innings of the Pirates' 6-4 victory at Miller Park. Kingham came undone in the sixth inning, though, allowing three Brewers runs.

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"We'll evaluate our pitching situation through the weekend," Hurdle said on Saturday. "We'll probably come to some type of conclusion after the off-day [on Monday]."

After an eight-year odyssey through the Minor Leagues that included Tommy John surgery, Kingham dazzled in his debut on Sunday, carrying a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Cardinals.

Video: Kingham flirts with perfect game in MLB debut

He looked slightly more mortal against the Brewers, but the 26-year-old did limit the Milwaukee offense to just three hits through his first five innings of work before a shaky sixth.

"Third time through the order is the hardest time, hardest for a pitcher to get out," Kingham said. "Pitch count was getting up, pitching from the stretch. Everything had to kind of come together and just went for them in that sixth inning. I kind of just battled and battled, and then they came out on top in that sixth inning and knocked me out."

The Pirates' Monday off-day is the first of three they'll have in a week so Kingham's stay in the Majors could be short as Hurdle tries to keep the rest of his rotation as close to regular schedule as possible.

"We have to prioritize our rotation moving forward," Hurdle said when Kingham was called up. "That's a large volume of off-days within a week."

Bucs' outfield rakes through first month
The Pirates' outfield has done some serious damage at the plate though the first month of the regular season.

Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson and Gregory Polanco entered Saturday's game against the Brewers with a combined 15 home runs and 52 RBIs and accounted for 164 of the Pirates' 463 total bases this season.

All Pittsburgh outfielders have 18 home runs on the year, tied for the third most in the Majors behind the Nationals' 21 and Red Sox's 19. The Pirates' outfielders also trail only those two teams with a combined .829 OPS.

Video: Must C Clips: Marte hustles for an inside-the-park HR

Those numbers have surprised some -- as have the Pirates, in general, this season -- but don't count Hurdle among that group.

"I don't think it's anything out of the norm that we thought we'd be able to get out of our outfielders," Hurdle said. "Dickerson's hit 20 for a few years. Marte is just scratching the surface -- I still really don't know where his home run numbers are going to go -- and Polanco has shown the ability to hit 20.

"They've provided some power, and we've found it in some other different places, as well."

Video: PIT@WSH: Dickerson plates Polanco for an early lead

Entering play Saturday, all Pirates hitters ranked among the top 5 in the National League in most major categories. Pittsburgh's .255 team average was second only to Atlanta (.276) and they were third in OPS (.733), slugging (.409) and runs scored (156) and fourth with a .324 on-base percentage.

"There were a lot of question marks overall during the winter," Hurdle said. "There's still a long way to go, but we found out we do have some talent here. We have men who are capable of pushing men across the plate."

Andrew Wagner is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Corey Dickerson, Nick Kingham, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco