The Pirates took a leap of faith by naming Adam Frazier their starting second baseman before spring training began.
Frazier was a solid utility player during his first three seasons in the major leagues. However, it was no sure thing that he could be an everyday player.
So far, the jury is out as to whether Frazier is capable of handling a starting job. He is hitting just .259/.322/.371 through 69 games. Though the advanced analytics credit Frazier with five defensive runs saved, he has made fielding miscues at pivotal moments of games in recent weeks.
However, Frazier showed Saturday why the Pirates believe in him, as his two-run single snapped a 2-2 tie and sparked a four-run eighth inning and a 6-3 victory over the Padres on Saturday at PNC Park.
The Pirates (35-40) have won three games in a row for the first time since May 17-19 and will look to sweep the three-game series Sunday afternoon.
“It felt really good,” Frazier said of getting the game-winning hit. “There have been a lot of times this season when I’ve been in those situations and didn’t come through."
Frazier came through Saturday against Craig Stammen (5-4), the Padres’ primary set-up reliever, grounding that two-run single up the middle to put the Pirates ahead 4-2.
Clint Hurdle was impressed with how Frazier did not try to overswing in a big situation.
“He just took what they gave him and used the middle of the field, which is the best approach in that situation,” Hurdle said. “It’s easy in that situation to try to do too much. He just did what the situation called for.”
Starling Marte got the inning started with a triple to the wall in right field. It appeared Marte would settle for a single but wound up motoring to third when Josh Naylor had a problem picking up the ball.
“There aren’t too many guys who can put it into the gear Starling did,” Hurdle said.
“That’s why Starling Marte is one of my favorite players to watch in the entire major leagues,” said Chris Archer, who allowed one run in five innings. “Every time he steps on the field, he’s the most talented player.”
The Pirates needed the cushion, as Michael Feliz gave up a run-scoring single in the ninth inning to Manny Machado that cut the lead to 6-3 with two outs. Felipe Vazquez came on and struck out Hunter Renfroe for his 19th save in 20 opportunities.
The Pirates have won five of their last seven games following a seven-game losing streak.
“It’s just part of it over a long season,” Frazier said of the skid. “We were going through a lot of stuff at the time, but you’ll have bad stretches and they’ll be challenging. It seemed like whenever we were hitting, we couldn’t get our pitching going and whenever we were pitching well, we weren’t hitting.
“We’ve been putting it all together and it’s been a lot of fun. Now we just have to keep it going.”
• Francisco Cervelli, catcher, is on the seven-day concussion IL.
• Jordan Lyles, right-hander, is on the 10-day IL with left hamstring tightness.
• Jameson Taillon, right-hander, is on the 60-day IL with a right elbow flexor tendon strain.
• Keone Kela, right-hander, is on the 60-day IL with right shoulder inflammation and is rehabbing at the Pirates' spring training facility in Bradenton, Fla.
• Rookie Davis, right-hander, is on the 10-day DL with a right middle finger blister and is on a rehab assignment at Class AAA Indianapolis.
• Erik Gonzalez, shortstop, is on the 60-day IL with a left clavicle fracture.
• Nick Burdi, relief pitcher, is on the 60-day IL with right elbow/pain caused by a nerve problem and is rehabbing in Bradenton.
• Lonnie Chisenhall, outfielder, is on the 60-day IL with a left calf strain.
The Pirates and Padres play the finale of the three-game series at 1:35 p.m. Sunday with Steven Brault (3-1, 4.40) facing fellow left-hander Joey Lucchesi (6-4, 3.74). Brault is 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last six games. Lucchesi is 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA in his last four starts.
Hunter Homistek, Matt Sunday and I will be on the scene.
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