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Bucs end slide as bats awaken for Musgrove

Frazier fuels 3-run 2nd to back righty's strong 7-inning start
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Last weekend in San Francisco, veteran infielder David Freese was talking about Joe Musgrove and the Pirates' young rotation. He stopped in the middle of a sentence, laughed and said simply, "We love Joe on the mound, man." The Bucs showed it on Saturday night, and it was easy to understand why they feel that way.

After being shut out in a pair of one-run losses the past two days, the Pirates backed up Musgrove's seven-inning gem and snapped their five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Cubs at PNC Park.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- Last weekend in San Francisco, veteran infielder David Freese was talking about Joe Musgrove and the Pirates' young rotation. He stopped in the middle of a sentence, laughed and said simply, "We love Joe on the mound, man." The Bucs showed it on Saturday night, and it was easy to understand why they feel that way.

After being shut out in a pair of one-run losses the past two days, the Pirates backed up Musgrove's seven-inning gem and snapped their five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the Cubs at PNC Park.

View Full Game Coverage

"I just love how competitive he is. He's dominant," said left fielder Corey Dickerson, who led the lineup with three hits and a walk. "You want that guy on the mound, because you know he's going to compete."

Like Ivan Nova and Trevor Williams the past two nights, Musgrove's only blemish was a solo home run. Ben Zobrist took him deep to right field in the third inning. Musgrove otherwise mowed down Chicago's lineup, striking out seven while allowing only five hits on 87 pitches.

After finishing last season in the Astros' bullpen, Musgrove has established himself as one of the Pirates' most consistent starters. He has pitched at least seven innings in five of his last six starts and put together a 2.52 ERA over his last eight outings, lowering his ERA on the year to 3.31.

"We've been throwing the ball really well. As starters, we feel like we're going out and giving us an opportunity to win," Musgrove said. "Being able to follow two solid performances by Nova and Trevor with another good one, and get us a win, is hopefully going to set things off in the right direction."

Video: CHC@PIT: Musgrove, Hurdle on starting pitching in win

The 25-year-old right-hander consistently got ahead of hitters, throwing a first-pitch strike to 18 of the 27 he faced, then used everything in his deep arsenal to silence the Cubs lineup. He mixed low sinkers with four-seam fastballs up in the zone. He leaned heavily on his slider in the early going, throwing the pitch 23 times, and turned to his changeup in the later innings. The Cubs swung and missed at six of the 18 changeups he threw.

"His secondary pitches were top-shelf tonight, especially the changeup late," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The changeup late was a swing-and-miss pitch, a separator, made his fastball play, enhanced everything else that he brought to the table."

The only difference between Musgrove on Saturday, Williams on Friday and Nova on Thursday? Run support, oddly enough, considering Pittsburgh had only won two of Musgrove's previous six starts.

It all came in one inning against right-hander Tyler Chatwood, starting for the Cubs in place of injured lefty Mike Montgomery. Josh Bell and Francisco Cervelli began the second with a pair of walks against Chatwood, who leads the Majors by a wide margin with 93 walks this season. Up came second baseman Adam Frazier, making his first start since Wednesday.

Video: CHC@PIT: Frazier smacks an RBI double to center

Frazier fell behind Chatwood then lined an 0-2 changeup to center field, driving in Bell and ending the Pirates' 24-inning scoreless streak. The bottom of the order padded Pittsburgh's lead with a pair of productive outs, as Colin Moran's grounder to first base brought home Cervelli and Frazier scored on a sacrifice fly by Adeiny Hechavarria.

"I feel like we've done a better job lately. Even the last couple days, even though we haven't scored runs, there's been some solid at-bats," Dickerson said. "As long as you keep working, you'll outwork any slump."

Video: CHC@PIT: Hechavarria drives in Frazier on sac fly

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leading man: Dickerson had struggled since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 4, batting just .188 with a .404 OPS over his previous 13 games. But if Saturday was any indication, the Pirates' dynamic leadoff hitter is rounding back into form.

Dickerson slapped a single to left in his first at-bat, walked in the third, singled to right in the fifth and capped his night with a seventh-inning double to center.

"He's gotten in a better place. He can hit," Hurdle said. "Sometimes you go through cycles. All hitters do. I love the way he shows up every day. He always feels that today's the day he's going to get something done special. He was able to give us a big shot in the arm up top."

SOUND SMART
Musgrove picked up his first win at PNC Park since May 30, his second start of the season, when he also held the Cubs to one run over seven innings. Musgrove is just 5-7 on the year despite owning the best ERA and WHIP in Pittsburgh's rotation.

Video: CHC@PIT: Hechavarria, Frazier turn double play in 2nd

"I like to win when I get my chance to pitch," Musgrove said, "but I'm going out there and I feel like I'm giving us a chance to win, which is kind of all I can ask for."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Pirates often rave about Musgrove's athleticism in addition to his work on the mound. It was on display in the fifth inning, when he dropped a bunt against reliever Jesse Chavez and beat Willson Contreras' throw to first base. Musgrove was initially called out, but the ruling was overturned after the Pirates challenged it.

Video: CHC@PIT: Musgrove bunts for a single after review

Why did Musgrove bunt with one out and nobody on? He said he got jammed so badly in his second-inning at-bat that he couldn't swing again. So he told bench coach Tom Prince, "I'm going to bunt or something." Prince gave him the go-ahead, so Musgrove asked Josh Harrison where he should aim his bunt.

Contreras -- who had just bunted for a hit against Musgrove in the fifth -- got to the ball first, but too late.

"So we're even, I guess," Musgrove said, smiling.

Video: CHC@PIT: Vazquez gets flyout to earn 27th save

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jameson Taillon will start for the Pirates as they wrap up a four-game series against the Cubs on Sunday at PNC Park. Taillon is 7-5 with a 3.15 ERA over his last 14 starts since May 27, and he's pitched at least six innings in six of his last seven starts. Left-hander Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam Frazier, Joe Musgrove

Longest home runs for every MLB team

Statcast measures farthest blast since 2015 for all 30 clubs
MLB.com

Ever since Babe Ruth launched Major League Baseball into the live-ball era with his awe-inspiring home runs, wowed fans have been asking: "How far did that ball go?"

Teams had their own methods for estimating home run distance for nearly a century. But now, the launch of Statcast™ has given us a whole new tool to answer the question, thanks to the tracking technology at every MLB ballpark.

Ever since Babe Ruth launched Major League Baseball into the live-ball era with his awe-inspiring home runs, wowed fans have been asking: "How far did that ball go?"

Teams had their own methods for estimating home run distance for nearly a century. But now, the launch of Statcast™ has given us a whole new tool to answer the question, thanks to the tracking technology at every MLB ballpark.

Here is a look at the longest homers hit by each of the 30 MLB clubs since Statcast™ began tracking home run distances at the start of the 2015 season.

American League East

Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson, April 23, 2015, vs. BAL; Sept. 17, 2017, at MIN
Distance: 481 feet (Watch them: HR No. 1; HR No. 2)
Both of these big flies were demolished. The first, with a 112.5-mph exit velocity, Donaldson launched into the second deck at the Rogers Centre. He hit the second even harder, at 113.5 mph, reaching the upper tank at Minnesota's Target Field. Full Blue Jays leaderboard

Orioles: Jonathan Schoop, Aug. 26, 2015, at KC
Distance: 484 feet (Watch it)
The Orioles have had their share of big sluggers in recent years, but it's Schoop who holds this title. One of baseball's best sluggers at second base, he jumped on this Johnny Cueto pitch that tailed in off the inside corner and kept it just fair down the left-field line at Kauffman Stadium. Full Orioles leaderboard

Rays: J.P. Arencibia, Sept. 7, 2015, at DET; C.J. Cron, Aug. 18, 2018, at BOS
Distance: 464 feet (Watch them: Arencibia's; Cron's)
Arencibia played only 24 games for Tampa Bay -- all in 2015, his final MLB season -- but he had no shortage of power. The opposing pitcher for this home run, the Tigers' Randy Wolf, was also in his final season. Nonetheless, they combined for an entry in the Rays' Statcast™ record book.

Arencibia got company when Cron showed off some light-tower power at Fenway Park in the dog days of August 2018. Cron crushed a 112.9 mph, 33-degree, 464-foot moonshot off David Price way over the Green Monster and over Lansdowne Street. Full Rays leaderboard

Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez, April 29, 2017, vs. CHC
Distance: 469 feet (Watch it)
Before this, Ramirez was tied with David Ortiz for the longest Red Sox homer, at 468 feet. But here, facing former Boston hurler John Lackey at Fenway Park, he took that honor all for himself. Ramirez drilled a center-cut two-seamer way over the Green Monster for a monstrous solo shot. Full Red Sox leaderboard

Yankees: Aaron Judge, June 11, 2017, vs. BAL
Distance: 495 feet (Watch it)
Judge became a sensation in 2017 because of feats like this one. The AL Rookie of the Year cleared the left-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium with a 118.6 mph, 495-foot homer. It was the longest homer of 2017 and tied Judge for the second-longest big fly in Statcast™ history. Full Yankees leaderboard

AL Central

Indians: Mike Napoli, Sept. 9, 2016 vs. MIN
Distance: 463 feet (Watch it)
The Party at Napoli's reached the highest deck at Target Field on this September night, as this blast helped the first baseman reach a career-high 93 RBIs on the season. Napoli had also hit a 464-foot ball in foul territory the night before at Progressive Field.

"That's good for bragging rights," Napoli's teammate, Rajai Davis, told MLB.com. "That's an awesome, great feeling. I don't think I've ever hit the ball that far in batting practice. He's doing it in games. That's awesome. We can all admire that." Full Indians leaderboard

Royals: Brandon Moss, July 1, 2017, vs. MIN
Distance: 477 feet (Watch it)
Moss left his mark during his lone season in Kansas City, golfing this pitch to help spur a four-run comeback for the home side against the rival Twins. Moss would retire the following spring, but his power clearly remained in his bat until the end. Full Royals leaderboard

Tigers: J.D. Martinez, July 21, 2015, vs. SEA
Distance: 467 feet (Watch it)
Not to be outdone by Nelson Cruz's 455-foot shot in the top half of the third inning, Martinez one-upped Seattle's slugger in the bottom half with this impressive blast to straightaway center at cavernous Comerica Park. The dinger impressed just about everyone in the ballpark, except perhaps the slugger who hit it.

"It all means the same to me," Martinez told MLB.com about his big fly. "I don't care. People get caught up on [distance]. To me, I really pay no mind. I just hit it, and I just hope it gets out." Full Tigers leaderboard

Twins: Kennys Vargas, June 20, 2017, vs. CWS
Distance: 483 feet (Watch it)
There really wasn't any doubt about this homer as soon as Vargas' bat met this pitch from White Sox starter Derek Holland with a scorching 114.1-mph exit velocity. Vargas' shot climbed high above the bullpen in left-center at Target Field for one of four 450-plus foot homers the first baseman hit in less than 800 at-bats in a Twins uniform. Full Twins leaderboard

Video: CWS@MIN: Vargas crushes a 483-foot home run

White Sox: Avisail Garcia, April 3, 2018, vs. TOR
Distance: 481 feet (Watch it)
Garcia was coming off a terrific 2017 campaign in which he finished second in the AL batting race with a .330 average, but he showed he could be much more than a slap hitter with this prodigious blast at Rogers Centre. Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ's slider caught too much of the plate, and Garcia punished it with a blistering 116.7-mph exit velocity.

"It was a pretty impressive blast, just from standing in the dugout and watching it," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told MLB.com. "Anybody who is a fan of baseball must have been impressed by that shot." Full White Sox leaderboard

AL West

Angels: Mike Trout, July 8, 2015, vs. COL
Distance: 477 feet (Watch it)
Trout's second homer of the night travelled deep to straightaway center field, landing halfway up the bleachers at Coors Field. Better yet, Trout's solo blast tied the ballgame and led to an eventual 3-2 win for the Angels. Full Angels leaderboard

Astros: George Springer, May 31, 2017, vs. MIN
Distance: 473 feet (Watch it)
Springer's blast capped a two-homer day against the Twins, part of a massive series for the eventual World Series champions in which they set a franchise record for runs scored in a three-game series.

"That's all I've got," Springer said of the homer. "That's about all I can hit it." Full Astros leaderboard

Athletics: Matt Olson, Sept. 15, 2017, vs. PHI
Distance: 483 feet (Watch it)
Olson's sky-high blast at Citizens Bank Park came at the peak of an incredibly powerful rookie season in which he crushed 24 homers in just 189 at-bats for Oakland. Phillies starter Mark Leiter Jr. knew he was in trouble as soon as Olson connected; all there was left to do was wait and see where the slugger's blast would eventually land. Full A's leaderboard

Mariners: Nelson Cruz, Sept. 24, 2016, vs. MIN
Distance: 493 feet (Watch it)
Few players in the game can crush a baseball like Cruz, and the Boomstick found the third deck at Target Field with this neck-craning blast. Cruz's shot remains among the longest homer hit outside the thin air of Coors Field, and it came one night after he had launched a different 454-foot homer for Seattle. Full Mariners leaderboard

Video: SEA@MIN: Cruz crushes 493-ft homer

Rangers: Nomar Mazara, May 25, 2016, vs. LAA
Distance: 491 feet (Watch it)
The rookie Mazara raised his profile substantially with this towering drive to the upper deck at Globe Life Park, turning on and punishing an offspeed pitch from Angels starter Hector Santiago.

"That was loud," said Rangers catcher Bobby Wilson of Mazara's dinger. "You need earplugs for that one." Full Rangers leaderboard

National League East

Braves: Freddie Freeman, June 13, 2015, vs. NYM
Distance: 464 feet (Watch it)
Atlanta's most consistent slugger got a hold of this first-inning fastball from Mets ace Jacob deGrom, pulling it high and deep onto the right-center-field bridge at Citi Field. Full Braves leaderboard

Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, Aug. 6, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 504 feet (Watch it)
This is it -- the longest home run since Statcast™ started tracking in 2015, and the only one projected at more than 500 feet. The 504-foot distance may have been aided by the thin air at Coors Field, but Stanton has shown plenty of times that he doesn't need any help to clear the fence. Full Marlins leaderboard

Video: Must C Crushed: Stanton connects on 504-foot home run

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes, April 24, 2018 vs. STL
Distance: 463 feet (Watch it)
Cespedes was off to a tough start to the 2018 season, batting .195 with an MLB-most 37 strikeouts entering this Tuesday night matchup in St. Louis. But with a pair of runners on in the fifth, New York's big slugger proved his power was still very much intact. Cespedes tied up the Cardinals with this moonshot that landed next to the "Big Mac Land" seating section in left field, surpassing Justin Ruggiano's 461-foot homer from Aug. 23, 2016, which also came at Busch Stadium. Full Mets leaderboard

Nationals: Michael A. Taylor, Aug. 20, 2015, vs. COL
Distance: 493 feet (Watch it)
Rockies starter Yohan Flande was cruising against the Nationals until Taylor gave his club a humongous game-tying lift on this blast to left-center. Taylor's dinger may have received an assist from the friendly Coors Field environment, but his 110.1-mph exit velocity was no joke. Taylor's ideal 26-degree launch angle also helped this ball go a long way. Full Nationals leaderboard

Phillies: Maikel Franco, July 10, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 471 feet (Watch it)
Rockies reliever Jason Motte attempted to go up and in on Franco with a fastball, but the Phillies third baseman was ready for the challenge. Franco turned quickly on the pitch, pulling it into the high altitude at Coors Field for a long line-drive homer. Full Phillies leaderboard

NL Central

Brewers: Domingo Santana, July 26, 2017, vs. WSH
Distance: 476 feet (Watch it)
Nationals Park has housed plenty of its own sluggers, from Bryce Harper to Anthony Rendon to Ryan Zimmerman. But it was the visiting Santana who etched his name atop the ballpark's list of longest home runs on this summer evening. Santana turned on an inside fastball from Gio Gonzalez and crushed it over the visitors' bullpen, high into the left-field concourse. Full Brewers leaderboard

Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna, April 3, 2018, vs. MIL
Distance: 479 feet (Watch it)
Ozuna's first Cardinals home run also established him atop his new team's home run distance leaderboard. Facing Brewers starter Chase Anderson, Ozuna connected with a 117.2-mph exit velocity and sent Anderson's offering deep to left-center -- also setting a new Statcast™ mark for the longest homer at Miller Park. Full Cardinals leaderboard

Cubs: Kris Bryant, Sept. 6, 2015, vs. ARI
Distance: 495 feet (Watch it)
Wrigley Field can become a launching pad when the wind blows out toward the bleachers, but even as a rookie, Bryant proved he didn't need much help launching prolific blasts. This one bounced off the new scoreboard in left field -- fittingly right next to Bryant's own picture -- to further build Bryant's prestige with the North Siders. Full Cubs leaderboard

Video: ARI@CHC: Statcast™ on Bryant's blast off scoreboard

Pirates: Pedro Alvarez, Oct. 4, 2015, vs. CIN
Distance: 479 feet (Watch it)
Pittsburgh's hulking slugger decided the right-field seats at PNC Park weren't enough on the final day of the 2015 regular season, instead clearing the bleachers completely and depositing this ball into the Allegheny River. Alvarez simply demolished the pitch, connecting with a 115.4-mph exit velocity and uppercutting with an ideal 29-degree launch angle. Full Pirates leaderboard

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, June 2, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 465 feet (Watch it)
Listed at just 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, Suarez struck a blow for undersized infielders with this massive shot to left-center at Coors Field. This was actually Suarez's second homer of the game, capping an impressive evening for the third baseman. Full Reds leaderboard

NL West

D-backs: Jake Lamb, April 29, 2017, vs. COL
Distance: 481 feet (Watch it)
In the days before the humidor, balls flew out of Chase Field. What's surprising about Lamb's blast isn't where it was hit, but the opposing pitcher he victimized. The Rockies' Tyler Anderson is a left-hander, and southpaws overall had been extremely effective against Lamb. But in this at-bat, the platoon disadvantage didn't bother Lamb at all. Full D-backs leaderboard

Dodgers: Joc Pederson, June 2, 2015, at COL
Distance: 477 feet (Watch it)
Considering the Rockies are in their division, it's no surprise that the Dodgers hit their longest homer at Coors Field: a majestic blast by Pederson way up into the center-field bleachers. It came in a series in which Pederson crushed four home runs -- one in each game. Full Dodgers leaderboard

Giants: Brandon Belt, May 22, 2015, at COL
Distance: 475 feet (Watch it)
Another NL West club, another entry from the friendly environment of Coors Field. Belt jumped on a hanging changeup and launched it far into the third deck in right field. This type of blast has been a rarity for the Giants, who hit the second-fewest homers of 420-plus feet (74) from 2015-17, ahead of only the Braves. Full Giants leaderboard

Padres: Franchy Cordero, April 20, 2018 at ARI
Distance: 489 feet (Watch it)
Franchy absolutely crushed this one. The D-backs' Matt Koch grooved Cordero a fastball, and Cordero hammered it 116.3 mph all the way up the scoreboard in dead center at Chase Field, instantly establishing a new longest home run of the 2018 season and a Padres Statcast™ record. He obliterated the team's previous best of 465 feet, which had been set by Melvin Upton Jr. in June of 2016. Cordero's blast is also the longest hit at Chase Field since Statcast™'s introduction in 2015, and the 10th-longest hit by anyone in baseball since 2015. Full Padres leaderboard

Video: SD@ARI: Cordero crushes 489-ft. HR at 116.3 mph

Rockies: Mark Reynolds, July 21, 2016, vs. ATL
Distance: 484 feet (Watch it)
Yes, the Rockies' longest home run came at home. Reynolds, the powerful veteran, got ahead in the count 2-0 against a rookie left-hander, Hunter Cervenka, who fired a fastball over the middle of the plate. Reynolds demolished it at 108.8 mph, sending a drive most of the way up the bleachers beyond the left-center-field wall. Full Rockies leaderboard

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSimonMLB.

Bucs hit into 7 DPs, spoiling Williams' effort

Righty falls short in 7-inning duel with fellow HS alum Hamels
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' scoreless streak reached 23 innings in frustrating fashion on Friday night, when a pitcher's best friend turned into the Bucs' worst enemy as they lost their second straight 1-0 decision to the Cubs at PNC Park.

The Pirates hit into a franchise-record-tying seven double plays -- also tying the MLB mark for a nine-inning game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau -- including six that ended innings. The Bucs have dropped five straight games, tying their longest losing streak of the season, and 13 of their last 21 to fall below .500 for the first time since July 15.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' scoreless streak reached 23 innings in frustrating fashion on Friday night, when a pitcher's best friend turned into the Bucs' worst enemy as they lost their second straight 1-0 decision to the Cubs at PNC Park.

The Pirates hit into a franchise-record-tying seven double plays -- also tying the MLB mark for a nine-inning game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau -- including six that ended innings. The Bucs have dropped five straight games, tying their longest losing streak of the season, and 13 of their last 21 to fall below .500 for the first time since July 15.

View Full Game Coverage

The Pirates haven't scored since the fourth inning of their 6-4 loss to the Twins on Wednesday afternoon, and they've put up only nine runs during this five-game skid. They out-hit the Cubs on Friday, 7-6, but their historic double-play output negated those efforts and another brilliant start by Trevor Williams.

"It's tough. But sooner or later, you know somebody on the team's going to get hot," leadoff man Corey Dickerson said. "It could be anybody at anytime, which is what we need. What we need is to feed off somebody or for somebody to pick each other up and let it get contagious."

Unfortunately for the Pirates, only double plays seemed to be contagious after a nearly two-hour rain delay. Veteran lefty Cole Hamels did not overpower Pittsburgh, recording only three strikeouts in seven innings, but over and over again, he forced the Bucs to put the ball on the ground in key situations.

"With such a tight game, you can't afford one mistake. And the guys just came through," Hamels said of his defense. "So it's outstanding to be able to see and have those guys behind you."

Video: CHC@PIT: Chavez gets save on Cubs' 7th double play

David Freese finished the first inning with a double-play grounder to third baseman Javier Baez, and he bounced into a game-ender against right-hander Jesse Chavez. Josh Bell hit into two double plays. Dickerson and Gregory Polanco grounded into one each. Pinch-hitter Adam Frazier lined into a double play to end the eighth, too, as pinch-runner Kevin Newman was ruled out at first base after diving back to the bag.

"They got 'em a lot of different ways," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We couldn't find dirt, grass. They made plays. They've got a good defense. They've had a good defense all year there in the infield. It just goes to show you the benefit of a well-executed pitch in certain situations."

Video: CHC@PIT: Baez, Rizzo combine for 2 after a review

The Cubs' consecutive combined shutouts spoiled a pair of excellent starts by Pittsburgh pitchers. On Thursday night, Ivan Nova's efficient outing went to waste. On Friday, Williams was on the wrong end of the pitchers' duel.

"Baseball is weird, man. For all the hops to go the right way for them tonight, they had guys in the right spots. It's just tough," Williams said. "I felt like we had a lot more loud outs. It was tough. The ball bounces their way sometimes, and it's unfortunate for us that we came up on the losing side."

The only run Williams allowed came in the second inning, when Kyle Schwarber launched a high fastball into the right-field seats. But Williams allowed no further damage, due in part to his precise fastball location all over the strike zone. As Nova did on Thursday, Williams mixed high four-seam fastballs with sinkers down in the zone to keep the Cubs off-balance.

"He just moved the ball around and attacked. Very aggressive. Quick and efficient," Hurdle said. "I can't say more: He pitched a fantastic game."

Video: CHC@PIT: Williams strikes out Happ to begin the game

Williams' strong start continued an excellent run in which he has allowed only three runs in 36 innings over his last six starts, lowering his ERA to 3.53. But he couldn't single-handedly end the Pirates' losing streak.

"At this point of the year, you're pitching in big games. There's still the Wild Card push that we can make," Williams said. "It's really our destiny. It's out in front of us. We just have to win some ballgames from here on out."

Video: CHC@PIT: Williams retires Zobrist to escape a jam

SOUND SMART
• The Pirates are the fourth team since at least 1908 to lose back-to-back 1-0 games in which a solo homer proved to be the difference each time. You don't have to look too far back to find the last instance, however. The Giants beat the Dodgers, 1-0, on a pair of Joe Panik homers on March 29-30.

• The Pirates last hit into seven double plays in a 7-5, 10-inning win over the Cardinals on June 16, 1994. They also grounded into six double plays in that game and hit into their final double play on a sacrifice fly.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
While the Cubs' infield defense won the day, Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison began the night with a nifty play of his own. Batting with two outs in the first, Ben Zobrist hit a grounder to shallow right field. Harrison made a diving stop, rolled over and threw the ball in one motion to record the out at first base.

Video: CHC@PIT: Harrison dives, throws from knees for out

HE SAID IT
"It's awesome. I grew up watching him pitch. In our area, he's a big deal. He's still a big deal in the Major Leagues. He's been doing it for 10-plus years, and he's one of the best at his craft. It's cool that we got to match up. ... It's cool for all of Rancho Bernardo High School to see that matchup." -- Williams, on dueling with Hamels, a fellow Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High School product

UP NEXT
Pirates starter Joe Musgrove will take the PNC Park mound at 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday against right-hander Tyler Chatwood, stepping into the Cubs' rotation to replace injured lefty Mike Montgomery. Musgrove has completed at least six innings in six of his last seven starts, posting a 2.70 ERA during that stretch, but the Bucs have won only three of those games.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Trevor Williams

Harrison at full speed for first time in month

Bucs infielder limited since injuring hamstring in first-half finale
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Fresh off a frustrating pair of losses in Minnesota, Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison offered a bit of good news. After going 3-for-5 at the plate and reaching on a bunt single, Harrison said Wednesday was the first day he'd been able to sprint at full speed and "play with no reservations" since the All-Star break.

"It's been a while," he said.

PITTSBURGH -- Fresh off a frustrating pair of losses in Minnesota, Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison offered a bit of good news. After going 3-for-5 at the plate and reaching on a bunt single, Harrison said Wednesday was the first day he'd been able to sprint at full speed and "play with no reservations" since the All-Star break.

"It's been a while," he said.

Harrison sustained a left hamstring strain in the Pirates' first-half finale and didn't play in the first series after the break. He admittedly wasn't at full strength upon his return, either, but Wednesday offered proof that he may be rounding back into form.

Harrison singled in each of his first two at-bats and dropped a bunt for a hit in Wednesday's 6-4 loss at Target Field. In Pittsburgh's 1-0 loss to the Cubs on Thursday at PNC Park, Harrison had a line-drive single and sprinted from first to third on Adeiny Hechavarria's hit in the fifth inning.

But Harrison knew he was in good shape on Wednesday, when he was able to tag up at second base and reach third on a flyout to right field.

"That's the most that I had really pushed my hamstring. There were times, leading up to that, that any force or trying to turn it up, I would still feel that I've got to be cautious," Harrison said. "Through the treatment and strengthening exercises that I've been doing, I can feel it getting back to where I can run.

"That's part of my game, just being able to run and play the way I do. These are things that I really hadn't had a chance to really do the past month, ever since I kind of tweaked it. But I could manage."

It's been a tough season for the 31-year-old infielder, who entered Friday slashing .261/.302/.368 a year after making his second All-Star team, and he already missed time this season due to a left hand fracture. With Sean Rodriguez (before his injury) and Adam Frazier around to spell him, Harrison was able to avoid the disabled list and play through it.

"I've spent enough time on the DL," Harrison said. "If I can manage and play, I know me being out on that field means a lot more than me being on the DL."

Tweet from @Pirates: Today @jhay_da_man had his friend Zach from a Special Wish to PNC for a visit. pic.twitter.com/CNsXsq1EXf

Apostel traded to Texas
The Pirates sent Minor League third baseman Sherten Apostel to the Rangers as the player to be named in the Keone Kela trade. Pittsburgh previously dealt Double-A left-hander Taylor Hearn to Texas on July 31.

Apostel, a 19-year-old signed out of Curacao in 2015, broke out in the Dominican Summer League last season and hit .259/.406/.460 with seven homers in 41 games for Rookie-level Bristol this season. He was not ranked among the Pirates' top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline.

Around the horn
• Right-hander Chad Kuhl (forearm strain) played catch on Friday for the first time since going on the disabled list in June. Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday that the Pirates still hope Kuhl will pitch "meaningful innings" next month.

• Hechavarria was in the lineup at shortstop for the third straight day on Friday. Manager Clint Hurdle said there will eventually be an opportunity for prospect Kevin Newman, but while Newman adjusts to life in the Majors, it seems the Pirates prefer Hechavarria's outstanding glove and .832 OPS against left-handers this season.

"I don't want us to lose sight of the fact of why we brought in Hechavarria," Hurdle said. "If [Jordy Mercer] is not hurt, [Newman is] not here. He's earned this opportunity because of an injured player, and he's a good young prospect. You don't force playing time for him right now, in my mind. You wait for playing time to be presented and open up, and I believe it will come his way.

Video: Newman talks about being called up to the Pirates

"I don't think we're giving enough credit to the guy playing shortstop right now. There's things to be learned, and I think we can get [Newman] some degree of comfort coming in. Then as this season goes, opportunities I do believe will come his way and I believe he'll be ready for them."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison

Martin drives in five for Bristol

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Pitching at his second level this season, Wyatt Marks is already producing similar results.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Pitching at his second level this season, Wyatt Marks is already producing similar results.

Marks, the A's No. 26 prospect, allowed one earned run on three hits while striking out 10 over six-plus innings a no-decision as Class A Advanced Stockton fell to Visalia, 3-2.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Making his third start for the Ports since his promotion on Aug. 2, Marks struck out three of the first four batters before Pavin Smith (D-backs No. 4) tagged him for one-out double in the second inning. He rebounded to retire nine straight batters, and wrapped up his outing by striking out five of the final eight he faced. Marks threw 90 pitches in the outing, 60 for strikes.

A four-pitch walk to leadoff the seventh inning spelled the end of Marks' night, and he was ultimately charged with an earned run after Stockton reliever Trey Cochran-Gill served up a game-tying, two-run homer to the first batter he faced.

Marks owns a 2.12 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 19 innings and has completed at least six innings twice in three starts with the Ports.

The 23-year-old right-hander was promoted to Stockton after posting a 3.23 ERA with a .227 opponents' average and a Midwest League-leading 138 strikeouts in 117 innings with Class A Beloit.

Other top prospect performances from Friday's action:

No. 10 overall prospect Royce Lewis (Twins' No. 1) hit a solo home run in the eighth inning that proved the difference in Class A Advanced Fort Myers' 3-2 win over Clearwater. He reached base three times out of the leadoff spot, going 2-for-3 with a walk to go along with his 14th home run of the season. The 19-year-old shortstop continues to have a remarkable first full season, hitting .316/.380/.498 with 46 extra-base hits, 74 RBIs, 82 runs scored and 28 steals.

• No. 22 overall prospect Luis Urias (Padres' No. 4) recorded his fourth straight multihit game for Triple-A El Paso with a 3-for-5 performance that included a double. The 21-year-old second baseman -- who started at the hot corner on Friday -- is hitting .647 (11-for-17) with five extra-base hits in that span, during which he's improved his season average from .270 to .285.

No. 37 overall prospect Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers' No. 2) homered for the third time in as many games and finished 2-for-3 in Double-A Tulsa's win over San Antonio in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The multihit performance was Ruiz's fifth during his six-game hitting streak, a stretch during which the 20-year-old switch-hitter has improved his average from .237 to .259. The homer, a solo shot with two outs in the first, was Ruiz's 12th of the year.

Ruiz goes yard

Right-hander Dustin May (Dodgers' No. 4, No. 80 overall) pitched well in his third Double-A start, allowing just one hit over 4 2/3 scoreless frames. He issued two walks and struck out six before departing after 86 pitches (58 strikes). The 20-year-old sports a 3.39 ERA with 107 strikeouts and 22 walks in 114 innings (20 starts) this season across two levels.

• No. 58 overall prospect Matt Manning (Tigers' No. 3) racked up eight strikeouts over five innings in another strong outing for Class A Advanced Lakeland. Throwing 60 of his 94 pitches for strikes, Manning allowed one run on three hits and generated another six outs on the ground. In eight starts since his promotion to the Florida State League, the 20-year-old right-hander has compiled a 2.78 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. Overall, Manning has fanned 131 batters in 101 innings across two levels.

• No. 78 overall prospect Monte Harrison (Marlins' No. 1) hit a solo home run and a double as he recorded his fourth multihit performance in five games for Double-A Jacksonville. The 23-year-old outfielder is approaching his second straight 20-20 campaign, as he's now up to 18 home runs and 24 steals on the season after totaling 21 and 27, respectively, in 2017. He's also enjoying his best month of the season, sporting a .263/.311/.561 line and five home runs through 13 games in August.

Harrison hits a homer for Jacksonville

Dodgers No. 24 prospect Cristian Santana continued his recent power surge by connecting on his fourth home run in six games for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. The home run was Santana's lone hit in the contest but it extended his hitting streak to 11 games -- a stretch during which he's lifted his batting average from .242 to .260. The 21-year-old corner infielder leads the California League in both home runs (23) and RBIs (100).

Mets No. 6 prospect David Peterson allowed two hits over five innings as he recorded his second straight scoreless start for Class A Advanced St. Lucie. The 2017 first-round pick issued three walks but also struck out five and induced seven ground-ball outs. After some initial struggles following a midseason promotion to the Florida State League, Peterson has rebounded to post a 1.06 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 17 innings over his last three starts.

Orioles No. 4 prospect Austin Hays fell a triple short of the cycle but still collected a season-high four hits to help lead Double-A Bowie past Erie, 6-4. The 23-year-old outfielder hit pair of doubles as well as his eighth home run to finish 4-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. He's hit .364 with two homers, four doubles and 11 RBIs in eight games since returning from the disabled list.

Hays hits a two-run homer

Pirates No. 23 prospect Mason Martin homered and finished with a career-high five RBIs as Rookie-level Bristol outslugged Burlington, 14-9. Martin's homer, a three-run shot in the third inning, was his 13th of the year, and he also tallied a double as well as a pair of run-scoring singles in the 4-for-6 performance.

Red Sox No. 7 prospect Darwinzon Hernandez fired six innings of one-hit ball as Class A Advanced Salem blanked Down East, 5-0. He issued a pair of walks and struck out nine. The 21-year-old left-hander has been a force since the calendar flipped to July, going 6-0 in his last eight starts, with a 1.29 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 42 innings. During that stretch, Hernandez has lowered his ERA from 5.19 to 3.56.

Hernandez picks up his ninth strikeout

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Pirates' nicknames for Players' Weekend

MLB.com @adamdberry

For the second consecutive year, Major Leaguers will put their personalities and passions on the field when Players' Weekend takes center stage during all games from Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26.

Here are the nicknames the Pirates will wear on their backs while sporting colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs inspired by youth-league uniforms:

For the second consecutive year, Major Leaguers will put their personalities and passions on the field when Players' Weekend takes center stage during all games from Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26.

Here are the nicknames the Pirates will wear on their backs while sporting colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs inspired by youth-league uniforms:

:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::

Shop for Players' Weekend gear
2018 Players' Weekend nicknames
Best nickname for every team
All you need to know about Players' Weekend

Chris Archer: "FLACO FUERTE"

Josh Bell: "JB"

Francisco Cervelli: "CISCO"

Kyle Crick: "CRICKY"

Elias Diaz: "EL MARACUCHO"
This one is all about home for Diaz, a native of the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo. Last year, he met a handful of Little Leaguers from his hometown at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and said they couldn't believe there was a big leaguer from Maracaibo, a "maracucho" just like them.

Video: Get ready, 2018 Players' Weekend is August 24-26

Corey Dickerson: "C-DIZZLE"

Adam Frazier: "FRAZ"

David Freese: "DAVEHUMAN"
This was perhaps the Pirates' most unusual nickname a year ago, but the story is familiar by now. Freese and his wife, Mairin, have a dog named Bob. One of Freese's friends, Bob, has a dog named Dave. When they're together, Freese goes by Davehuman and Bob (the dog, not the friend) is Bobdog.

Josh Harrison: "J HAY"
He's been "J-Hay" since he was a kid, so there's no sense changing it up now. Harrison goes by this nickname more often than either his first or last name, and it's even his Twitter handle: @jhay_da_man.

Adeiny Hechavarria: "LA PANTERA UUFF"

Keone Kela: "KEY"
After arriving in Pittsburgh's clubhouse following the Trade Deadline, Kela quickly issued a friendly notice that everyone should call him "Key."

Chad Kuhl: "CHET"
Pirates fans learned last year that "Chet" is essentially a more aggressive alter ego for the mild-mannered Kuhl. The right-hander is currently on the 60-day disabled list, but "Chet" -- Kuhl's hard-throwing, hyper-competitive persona -- will return whenever Kuhl is able to take the mound again.

Jordan Luplow: "LUPLOW"
Luplow laughed when informed on Thursday that his "nickname" was simply his last name. He goes by "Loop," and his Players' Weekend jersey may ultimately reflect that.

Starling Marte: "TATO"

Jordy Mercer: "THE ROOK"
Mercer is a veteran leader for the Pirates, but he's sticking with the same nickname he used last season. Mercer earned the moniker as a freshman at Oklahoma State University.

Colin Moran: "REDBEARD"
Have you seen him? After joining the Pirates in January, Moran quickly became known for his calm, almost expressionless demeanor and his bushy red beard.

Joe Musgrove: "MOOSE"

Dovydas Neverauskas: "LITHUANIAN"
This one's not too complicated. Last year, Neverauskas became the first Lithuanian player in Major League history. Nobody can share this nickname with Neverauskas.

Ivan Nova: "SUPER NOVA"

Gregory Polanco: "EL COFFEE"

Richard Rodriguez: "PERRO FLACO"

Sean Rodriguez: "CHICH"
This is the same nickname Rodriguez used last season, an abbreviation of his longtime nickname "Chi Chi," which may be related to golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez.

Casey Sadler: "SADS"

Edgar Santana: "BICEPS"

A.J. Schugel: "SCHUG"

Jameson Taillon: "JAMO"
Spoken like "J-Mo," his Players' Weekend nickname last season, this is Taillon's most frequently used nickname around the clubhouse.

Felipe Vazquez: "NIGHTMARE"
Vazquez picked up this nickname around Players' Weekend last season, and it stuck. The hard-throwing lefty closer even incorporated the moniker into his extracurricular duties in Pittsburgh's clubhouse, taking on the name "DJ Nightmare."

Trevor Williams: "PROJECT"
This might be the cleverest use of the opportunity. Williams' nickname will be above his jersey number, spelling out "Project 34." That is the name of Williams' charitable nonprofit organization benefiting people with spinal cord injuries. Williams changed his jersey number to 34 this season in honor of his friend and former teammate, Cory Hahn, who was paralyzed from the chest down after sliding headfirst into second base at Arizona State University.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates held quiet behind Nova, fall to .500

Bucs starter allows solo HR over 6 2/3 innings vs. Cubs
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- Looking to make some noise during a critical stretch against clubs they're chasing in the postseason race, the Pirates instead found their bats silent in a 1-0 loss to the Cubs on Thursday night at PNC Park.

The Pirates managed only six hits, all singles, and didn't draw a walk while striking out 10 times against Jon Lester and the Cubs bullpen. Despite a strong effort from Ivan Nova and quality work from relievers Richard Rodriguez and Felipe Vazquez, the Bucs fell back to .500 for the first time since July 20. They are now 10 games behind the division-leading Cubs and 6 1/2 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- Looking to make some noise during a critical stretch against clubs they're chasing in the postseason race, the Pirates instead found their bats silent in a 1-0 loss to the Cubs on Thursday night at PNC Park.

The Pirates managed only six hits, all singles, and didn't draw a walk while striking out 10 times against Jon Lester and the Cubs bullpen. Despite a strong effort from Ivan Nova and quality work from relievers Richard Rodriguez and Felipe Vazquez, the Bucs fell back to .500 for the first time since July 20. They are now 10 games behind the division-leading Cubs and 6 1/2 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot.

View Full Game Coverage

"Every time you lose a game, it's tough. But having a game like this, in the situation that we are, we need to win," Nova said. "We need to get W's, especially against the teams ahead of us. It's a tough one."

Video: CHC@PIT: Rodriguez K's Happ, the side in the 8th

Nova gave the Bucs the start they needed, even if it seemed to be split into two different acts. Early on, he fired fastballs up in the zone and recorded eight of his first 10 outs in the air. That was part of the veteran's plan of attack against a Cubs lineup that has had success against him when he's pounded the bottom of the zone with sinkers.

Ian Happ finally made him pay for a pitch over the plate, blasting a center-cut changeup into the center-field seats for a solo home run in the fourth. After that, Nova forced the Cubs to put the ball on the ground and recorded only one more out in the air as he worked 6 2/3 innings on 97 pitches.

Video: CHC@PIT: Happ smokes a solo homer to right-center

The veteran starter allowed seven hits and struck out three while putting together his 11th walk-free start of the season, but the complete lack of run support led to his seventh loss.

"I thought he pitched a really good game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Outs are outs, and when you're elevating the ball, you're going to get balls in the air. That was part of his plan tonight. ... He used his complete arsenal."

Lester snapped out of a brutal second-half slump and shut down the Pirates. The veteran lefty entered Thursday with a 10.32 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break, a 22 2/3-inning stretch during which he allowed nine home runs while opponents hit .383 against him.

But Lester carved up Pittsburgh's lineup over six innings on Thursday, tying his season high with eight strikeouts. The Pirates only put one runner in scoring position all night. According to Statcast™, they hit five balls harder than 95 mph and didn't produce a single "barreled" ball.

"It's nice to pitch well against these guys," Lester said. "These guys have kind of been a thorn in my side the past two years. So, it's nice."

Over their last four games, the Pirates have scored only nine runs. But even as their postseason odds grow longer, this is not the time of the year for dramatic change. There have been individual slumps, particularly from the top-of-the-order outfield trio that sparked their recent success, but this is still the same group of hitters that collectively caught fire last month.

"These guys have got us to this point in time in the fight," Hurdle said. "It all depends on what you're looking for, what you want to hunt right now. I want to hunt with the guys that have been in there and that have fought."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One shot: The Pirates only threatened to score once, in the fifth inning, when Josh Harrison and Adeiny Hechavarria each singled to put runners on the corners with two outs. That brought up Nova, the .022-hitting pitcher.

The Pirates thought about pinch-hitting for Nova, Hurdle said, and there's a "good chance" they would have if there had been only one out in the inning. But with two outs, Nova went to the plate and got ahead in the count, 3-0, before taking a questionably low called strike. Nova took the next pitch, fouled off two more then went down swinging at a high fastball.

Video: CHC@PIT: Lester K's Nova, strands 2 baserunners

"That's a hard one," Hurdle said. "It's not so much sometimes the way your guy's pitching. It's the way the other guy's pitching. I still felt confident if we flipped the lineup over, we were going to score one run."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Hurdle said shortstop prospect Kevin Newman would find opportunities to play, and the first came on the day he was called up to the Majors. After Adam Frazier pinch-hit for Hechavarria in the eighth inning, Newman -- with his wife and family in attendance -- made his Major League debut in the ninth as a defensive replacement at shortstop.

"It was unbelievable. I can't say enough," Newman said. "It's just a dream come true to go out there and be playing shortstop for a Major League team, let alone the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's incredible."

Video: CHC@PIT: Newman enters in 9th inning for MLB debut

HE SAID IT
"He got outs. I felt we were going to push, and it never happened. He continued to make pitches. We got his pitch count up a little bit, but he pitched six strong innings. He competes. I thought we had some pitches to do something with. We weren't able to, then he'd come back and make better pitches." -- Hurdle, on Lester

UP NEXT
Right-hander Trevor Williams will start against left-hander Cole Hamels, a fellow graduate of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego, as the Pirates and Cubs continue their four-game series at PNC Park at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday. Williams has allowed two runs in 29 innings over his last five starts.

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Ivan Nova

Bucs prospect Newman debuts at shortstop

Mercer to DL; Luplow recalled; Stallings optioned; Sadler DFA'd
MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- With Jordy Mercer injured, the Pirates called up their potential shortstop of the future on Thursday.

The Pirates selected the contract of infielder Kevin Newman, their first-round Draft pick in 2015, amid a series of roster moves before Thursday's series opener against the Cubs at PNC Park. Newman made his Major League debut in the ninth inning of Pittsburgh's 1-0 loss, entering the game as a defensive replacement at shortstop.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- With Jordy Mercer injured, the Pirates called up their potential shortstop of the future on Thursday.

The Pirates selected the contract of infielder Kevin Newman, their first-round Draft pick in 2015, amid a series of roster moves before Thursday's series opener against the Cubs at PNC Park. Newman made his Major League debut in the ninth inning of Pittsburgh's 1-0 loss, entering the game as a defensive replacement at shortstop.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's a dream come true. This is what every baseball player strives for and wants to get to," Newman said. "To be here and be in this clubhouse with these guys, it's really exciting. I look forward to it."

Video: Newman talks about being called up to the Pirates

Mercer was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left calf strain, which he sustained Tuesday night in Minnesota. Putting Mercer on the DL allowed the Bucs to quickly recall outfielder Jordan Luplow, who was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday.

With catchers Francisco Cervelli and Elias Diaz in good health, the Pirates also optioned catcher Jacob Stallings to Triple-A. Right-hander Casey Sadler was designated for assignment to make room for Newman on Pittsburgh's 40-man roster.

Newman learned of his promotion from Triple-A manager Brian Esposito after Indianapolis' doubleheader on Wednesday night. His first call was to his wife, Shayne, who caught a red-eye flight from California and arrived at PNC Park on Thursday along with Newman's parents, John and Tammy, and sister Fallon.

"Got a pretty good reaction out of her," Newman said, smiling. "She was really happy, screaming on the phone. It was great."

Newman was not in Pittsburgh's starting lineup on Thursday -- veteran Adeiny Hechavarria got the nod behind Ivan Nova -- but the 25-year-old will get a chance to play while Mercer is sidelined. Newman, the Bucs' No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was hitting .302/.350/.407 with 30 doubles, four homers, 35 RBIs and 28 steals in 109 games this season for Indianapolis.

Newman heated up just before his promotion, batting .366 in his final 10 games for Indianapolis. That stretch included a 5-for-5 performance on Aug. 7 during which Newman and Stallings both hit for the cycle. Newman is regarded as a high-average hitter who makes consistent contact, and his steady middle-infield defense has improved this season.

"I think he's the most dependable shortstop that we could call up," manager Clint Hurdle said. "From Opening Day until now, he's improved every facet of his game. He hasn't blinked when other people have been called up."

But Newman made a fairly quick climb through the Pirates' system. A year and a half after being drafted 19th overall, he was invited to big league Spring Training camp. Last July, he made the leap to Triple-A. A little more than three years after his professional debut, Newman found his No. 27 jersey in the Pirates' clubhouse.

"It happened in its own time. It happened when it needed to happen," Newman said. "The Pirates felt that I was ready. I've worked hard, and thankfully they selected me and brought me up here."

Mercer will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Newman is in line to take over as the everyday shortstop as soon as next year. Assuming Newman remains in Pittsburgh the rest of the year, he can continue to learn from Mercer as Mercer once learned from Clint Barmes.

"This is another one of our own guys. Jordy was one of our guys. So there's a kindred spirit there, I believe, that's special as well," Hurdle said. "They've already spent some time together, and there'll be more dialogue with Jordy while he's here that will help. I know it will help."

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

Pittsburgh Pirates, Jordan Luplow, Jordy Mercer, Kevin Newman

Jennings spins a gem for Bristol

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Cavan Biggio hit a pair of home runs, including walk-off shot in the ninth, as Double-A New Hampshire rallied to defeat Altoona, 7-6.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Cavan Biggio hit a pair of home runs, including walk-off shot in the ninth, as Double-A New Hampshire rallied to defeat Altoona, 7-6.

The Blue Jays' No. 9 prospect, the son of Hall of Famer Craig, also hit a double in the contest to finish 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a career-high four runs scored.

Biggio's first home run of the game, a two-run blast to right field with two outs in the third inning, started the scoring for New Hampshire, and he came around to score in his next two trips to the plate after reaching via a double and a walk, respectively.

A three-run Fisher Cats rally to tie the game in the eighth inning ultimately helped to set the stage for Biggio's heroics in the ninth, and the 23-year-old, batting with two outs, delivered by hammering a 3-0 pitch over the wall in right-center field for the walk-off win.

Biggio hits walk-off homer

It was the second multi-homer game of Biggio's career, as well as his second this month. What's more, Biggio, normally a second or third baseman, accomplished the feat in his first start of the season in the outfield (right field). It was his second-career start at the position, specifically, and his third-ever in the outfield in 302 Minor League games.

Nearing the end of a breakout season, Biggio leads the Eastern League in home runs (26), on-base percentage (.397), slugging (.532), OPS (.928), total bases (201) and walks (89). His 88 RBIs, meanwhile, rank second in the circuit, and, overall he's hit .257 in 113 games.

Other top prospect performances from Thursday's action:

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

No. 13 overall prospect Michael Kopech (White Sox No. 2) continued to trend in the right direction as he allowed one earned run on seven hits over six innings for Triple-A Charlotte. Perhaps more important, the 22-year-old flame-thrower posted his third straight start in which he recorded nine strikeouts and zero walks. With a 1.84 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 59-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 innings across his last seven starts, Kopech has seemingly checked every box the White Sox wanted to see before a possible September promotion.

• No. 22 overall prospect Luis Urias (Padres' No. 4) went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two runs scored as Triple-A El Paso edged Las Vegas, 3-2. It was the third straight multihit game for the 21-year-old second baseman, and he's 8-for-12 at the plate during that stretch. On the season, Urias is hitting .281 with 39 extra-base hits, 72 runs scored and 63 walks through 111 games.

Angels No. 20 prospect Patrick Sandoval tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings in his debut for Double-A Mobile. The 21-year-old lefty struck out six and allowed as many hits as he did walks (three). He has not allowed a run since July 22, a streak spanning 19 1/3 innings and that began before he was dealt by Houston to the Angels on July 26 for Martin Maldonado. Between the two organizations (and across three levels), Sandoval has logged a 2.10 ERA with 124 strikeouts and a .199 BAA in 107 1/3 innings.

Blue Jays No. 7 prospect Eric Pardinho carried a perfect game bid into the seventh inning in a career-long outing for Rookie-level Bluefield. He allowed just one hit, a one-out single in the seventh inning, struck out six and pounded the zone with 49 of 73 pitches over seven dominant innings. Signed out of Brazil for $1.4 million in July 2017, Pardinho, a 17-year-old right-hander, has registered a 2.93 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 13 walks in 46 innings (10 starts) this season against significantly older hitters in his first taste of pro ball.

Indians No. 24 prospect Eric Haase upped his home run total to 18 with his second two-homer game of the season for Triple-A Columbus. Both homers were solo shots, as Haase went deep in the fourth and sixth innings to finish 2-for-5. The 25-year-old backstop owns a .750 OPS with 43 extra-base hits and a career-best 67 RBIs at the plate this season. Behind it, he's thrown out 49 percent (29 of 59) of attempted basestealers.

Marlins No. 22 prospect Joe Dunand had another big game for Double-A Jacksonville, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs, one night after setting career highs with two home runs and four hits. The 22-year-old shortstop got off to a slow start upon reaching the Double-A level, but he's now hitting .364 with six extra-base hits in 11 games this month.

Robert Dugger (Marlins' No. 23) scattered five hits over seven scoreless innings to earn the win on the mound. He issued three walks and matched his season high with nine strikeouts. The 23-year-old right-hander has completed seven innings in three of his last four starts, all victories.

Phillies No. 20 prospect David Parkinson logged his second scoreless start in three turns since his promotion to Class A Advanced Clearwater. He allowed two hits (both singles), walked a pair and struck out five in the outing, throwing 47 of 66 pitches for strikes. The 22-year-old left-hander was promoted to Clearwater after posting a South Atlantic League-leading 1.51 ERA in 95 1/3 innings (17 starts) with Class A Lakewood.

Pirates No. 12 prospect Steven Jennings gave up an unearned run on five hits over a career-high seven innings to help lead Rookie-level Bristol past Burlington. It arguably was the finest performance of the year by the 19-year-old righty, who finished with seven strikeouts and one walk on 85 pitches (61 strikes).

Reds No. 21 prospect Josiah Gray tossed five innings of one-run ball in another strong start for Rookie-level Greeneville. The 20-year-old righty allowed just one hit, walked one, struck out five and retired the final 13 batters he faced. Through his first 10 starts as a pro, Gray, a 2018 Competitive Balance Round B pick, owns a 2.66 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 44 innings.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.