Caminero strengthens Bucs' faith in middle relief

Finding early-season form, right-hander strikes out career-high six over 2 1/3 scoreless innings

Caminero strengthens Bucs' faith in middle relief

PITTSBURGH -- On one of the Pirates' dullest nights of the season, one of their key stretch players came up very sharp. Arquimedes Caminero's dominant turn brightened the 5-0 loss to the Cubs at PNC Park, and helped quell concerns about the Bucs' middle relief.

As a reflection of the qualms about that area, the Pirates acquired a pair of relief arms (Joe Blanton and Joakim Soria) at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. But getting the early-season Caminero back would do even more good.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cutch, Kang team up with gem to save run

Outfielder slides to cut off two-out double and fires to shortstop, who throws strike home to nail Russell

Cutch, Kang team up with gem to save run

PITTSBURGH -- Andrew McCutchen's slide and Jung Ho Kang's arm teamed up for a sparkling play in the second inning of the Pirates' 5-0 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night.

With Chicago leading, 1-0, and Addison Russell on first base, Chris Denorfia ripped a two-out drive to left-center off left-hander J.A. Happ.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ labors in debut as Bucs fall quietly to Cubs

Happ labors in debut as Bucs fall quietly to Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler drove in two runs each to back Jake Arrieta's two-hit pitching through seven innings Tuesday night and spark the Cubs to their sixth straight victory, 5-0, over the Pirates at PNC Park.

Arrieta walked three and fanned five as he lowered his ERA to 2.50 in winning for the sixth time in seven decisions. The only hits off him were singles by Andrew McCutchen with one out in the fourth and by Starling Marte leading off the seventh.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates look for Locke to cool Cubs in finale

Pirates look for Locke to cool Cubs in finale

A day after a recent acquisition made his debut for the Pirates, Wednesday will be the Cubs' turn to show off their new pitching piece as Dan Haren makes his first start for Chicago against Pittsburgh at PNC Park.

He will try to help the Cubs extend their winning streak to seven games in the finale of a rain-shortened series.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scahill cleared for Minors rehab assignments

Recovering from forearm tightness, Bucs reliever to pitch in Gulf Coast League, Double-A

Scahill cleared for Minors rehab assignments

PITTSBURGH -- After acquiring bullpen depth at the Trade Deadline, the Pirates could have more help on the way.

Right-handed reliever Rob Scahill, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right forearm tightness in late June, is on schedule to make a couple of rehab outings in the near future.

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John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Central in the Cards, but Bucs, Cubs won't fold

Central in the Cards, but Bucs, Cubs won't fold

The Cardinals are as efficient as a Swiss watch. They lost their ace in April but never missed a beat. Adam Wainwright had helped the Cards get off to a 12-4 start, and they have kept ticking on a pace to win 100-plus games as well as stay in range to chase the franchise record of 106 wins.

The Cardinals needed to set such a high standard. The Pirates have been almost as strong as they attempt to go to the postseason for a third consecutive year, this time as division champ. They were 18-22 on May 20 before reeling off a 21-5 stretch to drop the surprising Cubs into third place. No team has been more interesting than the one managed by Joe Maddon, which is contending for a Wild Card spot with four rookies, including All-Star Kris Bryant, in the lineup.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Weather postpones Bucs' opener vs. Cubs

Game called following second lengthy delay after fourth; no makeup date announced

Weather postpones Bucs' opener vs. Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Monday night's Pirates-Cubs game at PNC Park was called off after four innings -- and three hours and 29 minutes of rain -- with the teams tied at 1.

A makeup date for the game will be announced at a later date, and tickets for Monday night's game will be honored for the rescheduled game.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Burnett has strain, aims to return this season

With recovery time roughly four weeks, relieved Bucs veteran says he's '100 percent sure' of comeback

Burnett has strain, aims to return this season

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander A.J. Burnett was diagnosed on Monday with a flexor strain in his right elbow, and the veteran pitcher also received an injection of platelet-rich plasma to abet the recovery he hopes will have him back on a mound.

Estimated time of Burnett's return was set at approximately four weeks.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang nets NL Rookie of Month with hot July

Infielder posts .379 batting average with 13 extra-base hits, nine RBIs

Kang nets NL Rookie of Month with hot July

Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was named the National League's Rookie of the Month for July.

The award is the first monthly honor of Kang's brief career and comes after he hit .379 and posted a .443 on-base percentage with a trio of homers and nine RBIs last month.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no Pirates rookie ever has ever hit for a higher batting average and had as many extra-base hits (13) in one calendar month since Paul Waner in September 1926.

Waner, a Hall of Famer, hit .381 with 14 extra-base hits that month.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Morse aims to bring experience, power to Bucs

Slugger knows what it takes to win in October; says 'dreams can come true' in regard to joining Pirates

Morse aims to bring experience, power to Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- The last time Michael Morse was in Pittsburgh, in late May with the Marlins, it was only a one-day pit stop on his way to the disabled list. He would miss six weeks with a strained ring finger. The weight of the World Series ring he earned last season with the Giants had nothing to do with the injury, but it has everything to do with what Morse hopes to bring to the Bucs.

He and Travis Ishikawa, both, for that matter. The right-handed-hitting Morse and the left-handed Ishikawa shared 50 starts at first base for San Francisco while Brandon Belt recovered from a fractured left thumb. That platoon has now been revived in Pittsburgh.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang proving to be amazing investment

His .485 average against fastballs 95 mph or higher ranks No.1 in baseball

Kang proving to be amazing investment

When the Pirates signed Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang in January to a four-year deal worth $11 million -- on top of the $5 million posting fee they'd sent to his old team, the Nexen Heroes -- it represented something of a risk.

There had never been a successful Korean Baseball Organization position player in Major League Baseball. (Shin-Soo Choo has been a star in America, but he arrived as an amateur.) No one knew if Kang had the defensive range to unseat Jordy Mercer at shortstop, but his other options were limited since Josh Harrison was coming off an All-Star year at third base and Neil Walker had second base locked down. And while Kang had hit 40 homers for Nexen in 2014, baseball in the country had seen such a wild increase in offense that home runs were up 80 percent over just two seasons before (based on research from former major leaguer Ryan Sadowski), casting doubts on what his true offensive skill level really was.

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Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clemente's widow, sons visit Studio 21

Family tours facility, records segment for MLB Central

Clemente's widow, sons visit Studio 21

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Roberto Clemente's impact on baseball has lived on in countless ways since his tragic death in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972. At MLB Network, he is honored with Studio 21, inaugurated on Opening Day 2015, and host to MLB Now, MLB Central and Quick Pitch.

Adorned with Clemente images and memorabilia, Studio 21 has followed Studio 3 (Babe Ruth) and Studio 42 (Jackie Robinson) at MLB Network as tributes to players who have made a lasting impact on the game.

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David Venn is executive editor of MLB.com's Spanish-language site, LasMayores.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs shut out Reds for series split

Bucs shut out Reds for series split

CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton were missing from the Reds' lineup. Pirates starter Charlie Morton certainly didn't miss the rested Cincinnati stars, hurling five-hit shutout ball for seven innings Sunday in a 3-0 win at Great American Ball Park that salvaged a split of the four-game series.

The game was interrupted by a benches-clearing incident in the eighth inning after the teams traded hit batters, the Bucs' Andrew McCutchen for the Reds' Brandon Phillips.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Benches empty after Phillips gets hit by Watson

Benches empty after Phillips gets hit by Watson

CINCINNATI -- Tempers are never far below the surface when the Pirates, the Reds and the National League Central rivals' mutual philosophies of pitching inside clash. Those emotions boiled above the surface in the eighth inning of Sunday's game with the Reds.

Left-handed reliever Tony Watson's first pitch to Brandon Phillips hit the Reds' second baseman on the upper left arm. Maybe it was retaliation for Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen being plunked by Pedro Villarreal in the top of the eighth. Maybe it wasn't. For sure, however, it led to three separate on-field incidents that slowed down the Bucs' 3-0 victory, and drew ejections for Sean Rodriguez and Mark Melancon of the Pirates and Marlon Byrd and Joey Votto of the Reds.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Crew Chief review gives Walker a home run

Crew Chief review gives Walker a home run

CINCINNATI -- A Crew Chief review quickly turned Neil Walker's fourth-inning triple into a home run during the Pirates' 3-0 victory over the Reds on Sunday.

Walker led off the inning against Cincinnati rookie right-hander Keyvius Sampson with a drive to right-center that was ruled in play, as the ball caromed off the top of the wall.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cincinnati again leaves Cole Red-faced

Despite struggles against rival NL Central club, righty manages to keep Votto off bases

Cincinnati again leaves Cole Red-faced

CINCINNATI -- It isn't like the Reds don't put the hurt on other Pirates. Cincinnati has taken nine of 12 games against the Bucs this season, including Saturday's 4-3 Pirates loss, and 21 of 31 since the 2013 Wild Card celebration in PNC Park.

It is a lineup of Pirates predators. For instance, total the productions of Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Todd Frazier this season, and you will find that 25 percent of their home runs and 23 percent of their RBIs have come against the Pirates. So a lot of them have taken hits.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs rally in 9th, but fall to Reds

Bucs rally in 9th, but fall to Reds

CINCINNATI -- Eugenio Suarez drove in three runs to back Raisel Iglesias' four-hit pitching into the seventh Saturday as the Reds downed the Pirates, 4-3, in a sold-out Great American Ball Park.

Iglesias was in control for 6 2/3 innings -- his second longest of eight starts -- to out-duel Gerrit Cole for his second win. He allowed four hits and walked two, striking out five. One of the hits off him was Jung Ho Kang's solo homer in the fourth, his eighth of the season and third in five games.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ checks in excited to prove himself

Newly acquired lefty meets with pitching coach Searage

Happ checks in excited to prove himself

CINCINNATI -- J.A. Happ checked in early Saturday, not only to join the Pirates starting rotation, but also to shake it up.

The lefty, acquired late Friday from Seattle, will fill in for A.J. Burnett, who is on the disabled list for right elbow inflammation. That slot would have him pitch on Tuesday in PNC Park against the Cubs, between fellow southpaws Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke. Manager Clint Hurdle and pitching coach Ray Searage aren't crazy about having three straight lefties face the Cubs.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte single-handedly thwarts Reds' rally

Left fielder makes back-to-back stellar plays on defense, preserving Bucs' lead in 9th

Marte single-handedly thwarts Reds' rally

CINCINNATI -- Starling Marte had unleashed impressive throws before. He had made acrobatic, physics-defying catches before. But he had never before showcased his defensive arsenal on back-to-back plays, and he picked a jaw-dropping time to debut that parlay Friday.

Marte single-handedly turned back the Reds in the bottom of the ninth inning. Cincinnati was about to add to its torment of the Pirates and instead was sent home muttering about a 5-4 defeat.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs defeat Reds thanks to Marte's grab

Bucs defeat Reds thanks to Marte's grab

CINCINNATI -- Following an afternoon where they were frisky at the Trade Deadline with multiple moves, the Pirates battled back and then held on for a 5-4 victory over the Reds on Friday that snapped Cincinnati's three-game winning streak.

Jung Ho Kang scored the go-ahead run on Jumbo Diaz's bases-loaded, two-out wild pitch in the sixth before Starling Marte, who saved the game in the bottom of the ninth with a diving catch, added an RBI single to left field.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Soria makes Bucs debut against Reds

Former Tigers closer embracing new role with Pirates

Soria makes Bucs debut against Reds

CINCINNATI - Joakim Soria had the definite deja vu vibes on Friday. Not only was the right-handed reliever on the move at the non-waiver Trade Deadline for the second straight year, but he also again moved out of his habitual closing role.

A year ago, he was dealt from the back end of Texas' bullpen into the middle of Detroit's. His setup role there lasted only into the first week of this season, when the Tigers lost Joe Nathan to elbow surgery. Soria stepped back into the ninth-inning fire to convert 23 of 26 save opportunities.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marte Partay saves the game for the Pirates -- twice

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Marte Partay saves the game for the Pirates -- twice

Poor Cincinnati. Here they thought they were playing just an ordinary baseball game against the Pirates, one that abided by ordinary baseball rules and offered a chance at victory or defeat. Down by just a run in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds rallied, putting two men on with just one out and looking to walk off with a win. 

Little did they know that, in reality, they had been cordially invited to the Marte Partay, and the festivities were about to begin. First, after a Todd Frazier single that seemed sure to tie the game, Starling played a stirring game of Pin the Baseball on Brandon Phillips. 

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Bucs acquire Morse, Happ to close Deadline

Huntington satisfied with Pirates' lower-profile trades

Bucs acquire Morse, Happ to close Deadline

CINCINNATI -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is fond of entering winters with the advisory his team "will never win the offseason," a deference to other clubs that raise bigger headlines.

The Bucs didn't "win" July, either, but with five lower-profile moves, Huntington hopes to have revamped the club's roster into one that can win a division.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates acquire Soria from Tigers

Bucs bolster bullpen with righty, who was also on Cardinals' wish-list

Pirates acquire Soria from Tigers

CINCINNATI -- The National League Central race still has 10 weeks to go. But the Pirates have already beaten out the Cardinals on one count: Joakim Soria.

Swinging their second deal of the day to solidify the bullpen, the Bucs on Thursday acquired the Tigers' closer -- who had been also on the wish-list of the Cardinals, looking to bolster their own bullpen even after last week's acquisition of Steve Cishek from the Marlins.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs struggle against hard-hitting Reds

Bucs struggle against hard-hitting Reds

CINCINNATI -- As many eyes spy what both teams might do before today's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Reds produced a big offensive display for a third-straight victory in a 15-5 win over the Pirates on Thursday. Leading the way was Brandon Phillips, who hit two home runs and drove in a career-high seven RBIs. For the second time in eight days, Joey Votto reached base five times, while scoring three runs.

"It was a great game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "To score that much, and have everybody influence the offense, I know that feels good for our hitters."

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Position player Decker pitches in vs. Reds

Outfielder notches scoreless eighth inning in debut on mound

Position player Decker pitches in vs. Reds

CINCINNATI -- Five pitchers worked for the Pirates on Thursday night. Only two avoided being scored upon by the Reds in their 15-5 win: Arquimedes Caminero, who made one pitch to get the final out of the seventh, and Jaff Decker, who worked a scoreless eighth.

Wait. Decker? Didn't he used to be an outfielder?

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blanton, Worley experience revolving door

Former teammates disappointed they won't play together

Blanton, Worley experience revolving door

CINCINNATI -- Zach Duke hasn't thrown a pitch for the Pirates in five years. However, their former left-hander may have just thrown a lifeline to the Bucs' pennant-stretch pitching staff.

Joe Blanton was an ex-Major League pitcher late last fall when his new neighbor in Nashville, Tenn., went looking for someone to throw to.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pirates designate Worley for assignment

Pittsburgh creates roster space to add veteran righty Blanton

Pirates designate Worley for assignment

In order to clear room on the 25-man roster for new acquisition Joe Blanton, the Pirates designated right-hander Vance Worley for assignment on Thursday.

In his second season with Pittsburgh, Worley was 4-5 with a 3.78 ERA in 20 appearances (eight starts).

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.