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Braves hang another 1-0 loss on the Pirates

September 7, 2018
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Pirates pitcher Chris Archer delivers during the first inning against the Braves Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, at PNC Park.

Those expecting a big return from the Chris Archer trade must wait at least another five days.

And those expecting something much simpler from Archer’s teammates -- someone crossing home plate -- must be equally patient.

Archer posted the shortest outing of his four-game Pittsburgh Pirates career Monday night in front of a crowd of 16,445 at PNC Park, leaving a 1-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves after four innings with left leg discomfort. The injury occurred when he struck out in the third and fell to one knee.

Meanwhile, the Pirates (63-63) lost their third 1-0 decision since Thursday. They have allowed one run in each of the past five games in an impressive display of pitching efficiency, but they have only a 2-3 record to show for it.

“If we score one run, maybe we’re still playing,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Archer appears to be OK. Pulling him from the game was a precautionary move aimed at making sure he is ready for his next start. Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said, “He continues to check out OK on the left side.”

Added Archer: “It’s really something that isn’t too serious.”

Unlike what has happened to the Pirates’ bats.

At a time when they are slipping out of playoff contention, they are scoreless in 48 of the past 51 innings, scoring a total of five runs in 5½ games.

Hurdle is encouraged his batters have not shown much frustration.

“I watch body language all the time,” he said. “There’s no isolation where guys go down in the corner and they sit by themselves.

“Guys are up there battling. 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.”

The Braves called up 20-year-old starting pitcher Bryse Wilson on Monday to make his major league debut, and he shutout the Pirates on three hits through five innings. Five Braves relief pitchers gave up only four hits and a walk over the final four innings.

Hurdle juggled his lineup after benching Starling Marte for lack of hustle Sunday and losing second baseman Josh Harrison to a hamstring injury.

Rookie Kevin Newman replaced Harrison and was 0 for 3 in his first major league start. Marte pinch-hit for Newman in the ninth inning with a runner on base, but he bounced weakly to Braves closer Dan Winkler. Adam Frazier, who was hitting .390 since rejoining the team from Triple-A Indianapolis on July 25, was 0 for 4 playing in place of Marte.

Yet, the Pirates had plenty of opportunities to score, putting two runners on base in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings while wasting one-out doubles by Adeiny Hechavarria and Gregory Polanco.

In the seventh, Corey Dickerson singled to center field after Heckavarria singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. But Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte threw out Hechavarria at home plate -- a call upheld by replay review.

Hechavarria said he felt the tag, but he thought his hand was on the plate. He had two hits, but struck out to end the game with the tying run on second base.

Archer and four relief pitchers were dominant, except for an RBI single by Nick Markakis in the first inning.

“He put a good swing on a good pitch,” said Archer, who hasn’t pitched beyond the fifth inning in any of his four starts for the Pirates. “Wish I could have executed it a little better.”

At the start of the Braves fourth, Pirates trainer Bryan Housand and Hurdle met with Archer on the mound, but he remained in the game and threw his only three-up, three-down inning.

“At that time, I really didn’t feel anything,” Archer said. “But when I cooled off, some fatigue started to set in which normally isn’t there.

“The one thing that I’ve always prided myself on in this game is being on the field. I think it was a smart move, precautionary. Just trying to be smart so I can be out there in five days instead of letting it linger and potentially doing something worse.

“What you’re trying to avoid is it leaking into your arm because all your power and your drive comes from your lower half. If you ease up on the lower half, you put more stress on your arm.”

The injury aside, Archer did well to minimize the damage done by five Braves hits and a walk.

“I felt like if I didn’t do that on the swing,” he said, “I would have been able to get six, seven, eight more outs.”

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