Jordan Luplow's home run lifts Pirates to 4th straight win
Kevin Kramer’s turn on the major league stage was planned in advance.
Jordan Luplow’s was unexpected.
However they made their way into the lineup, the September call-ups provided a pair of critical hits as the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins in front of an announced crowd of 19,515 Friday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates have won four in a row to move within one game of.500 (70-71).
“Really big night for those two guys to come through in the clutch,” starting pitcher Chris Archer said.
The Pirates trailed 3-2 when Gregory Polanco slid awkwardly into second on a leadoff double in the sixth inning, suffering injuries to his left shoulder and knee. He required medical attention on the field, but walked off with minimal assistance.
With their most dangerous hitter in the second half of the season on the trainer’s table, the Pirates rallied in the seventh.
Kramer, a 24-year-old second baseman who hit .311 in Triple-A this season, was making his first major league start. With two outs and Jordy Mercer on third, he bounced a single up the middle to forge a 3-3 tie. It was his second hit of the game.
Twelve of Kramer’s friends and family members made the trip in from California for the game.
“That’s what it’s all about for me,” Kramer said. “To have my 4-year-old nephew, with my name on his back on his jersey, that’s priceless.”
Luplow was the next batter, and the 23-year-old outfielder lined a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right-center to give the Pirates a 5-3 lead.
Both Kramer and Luplow delivered their hits on 100-mph fastballs from hard-throwing Miami reliever Tayron Guerrero.
“The first one looked like a grain of salt,” Luplow said. “I was like, ‘I gotta get ready. This is real. This is coming in hot.’ I was lucky to get a pitch over the middle of the plate and put some barrel on it.”
Archer, meanwhile, pitched exclusively from the stretch for the second straight start and was mostly effective. He struck out the side in the first and allowed no runs on three hits through five innings before running into trouble in the sixth.
After giving up a double to J.T. Realmuto, Archer walked Brian Anderson. With two on and two out, center fielder Lewis Brinson launched a belt-high slider over the wall in left to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead.
They were the only runs Archer allowed. He gave up five hits and three walks in six innings, striking out six.
Archer said the thing he found most frustrating about the outing was the walks, including one to Miami starting pitcher Dan Straily.
“But you know what?” Archer said. “I’m not going to beat myself up. We won the game. I’m throwing the ball so much better than I was a couple weeks ago. Everything’s going the right direction for the team.”
The Pirates played with the lead for most of the night thanks to a two-run home run by Josh Bell in the second.
Coming into the game, Bell was hitless in his previous 19 at-bats and hadn’t driven in a run in his previous 19 games. He sent a 403-foot drive to the bullpen in left-center to make it 2-0.
It was the ninth home run of the season for Bell, who went deep 26 times last year.
“It was one of those swings where I wish I started doing that months ago,” Bell said.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.