Courtesy of StepOutside.org

Archer backs bullpen after another blown lead

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Pirates relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez (48) stands on the mound as the Nationals' Howie Kendrick rounds the bases on a solo home run in the eighth inning Saturday -- AP

WASHINGTON -- Chris Archer had pitched well for the Pirates in his first two outings this season, but had struggled with his pitch count. That led to him lasting just 11 total innings in two starts, despite allowing just three earned runs in those two games.

Saturday against the Nationals, Archer was hitting his targets more often than not. And after a rough first inning in which he threw 22 pitches, the Pirates' starter settled in nicely over the next six innings, allowing just one run on four hits.

But Richard Rodriguez was unable to hold the lead, allowing back-to-back homers to Adam Eaton and Howie Kendrick on consecutive pitches with two outs in the eighth inning as the Nationals rallied to beat the Pirates, 3-2.

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