PITTSBURGH – Early in Tuesday’s game, Kevin Pillar went into the clubhouse to take some swings in the batting cage in the event the Braves needed him. When he saw the Pirates might insert a lefty, the right-handed hitting Pillar went back to the dugout and asked the coaches if they would need him.

“I was expecting them to say no,” Pillar said, citing several reasons, including how early in the game it was at the time.

Well, the Braves pinch-hit Pillar in the sixth. Three innings later, he tied the game.

The Braves used a three-run ninth inning to beat the Pirates, 8-6, and snap a three-game losing streak.

Five observations:

1. From the stands at PNC Park, Pillar’s parents watched as their son created a memorable moment right in front of their eyes. They probably would have been excited no matter how it ended.

See, this era of Pillar’s career – in which he is a role player and not a starter – also is different for his parents.

“It’s challenging on them, too,” Pillar said. “I’m at a different phase of my career. They’re so used to coming into town and knowing that I’m penciled in the lineup every day, they get a chance to come watch me play. They know coming into a city, there’s a chance I don’t play. I fall subject to who’s pitching on either side. So to get an opportunity tonight with them here, knowing I’m definitely on the back end of my career, every moment I have, I cherish, and it’s even more special when they’re here.”

Ninth inning. Two outs. Braves down a run.

Pillar versus David Bednar, one of the game’s better closers.

On an inside pitch, Pillar lined a run-scoring single into left field that tied the game.

“It feels like every time he’s put in the lineup, put in the game, he does his job,” Orlando Arcia, who followed Pillar’s hit with a two-run double that scored Pillar, said through interpreter Franco García.

2. In his accomplished career, Pillar has played in multiple postseasons. He has taken big at-bats in pressure spots. He is no stranger to high stakes.

A night in August, in front of only 15,583, is nothing.

So when Pillar stepped into the batter’s box, he felt surprisingly calm.

“I feel like in those scenarios, maybe everyone in the ballpark expects that guy on the mound to win,” Pillar said. “With that comes a little bit of freedom. I kind of went in with that mindset that if we had other options, they probably would’ve went with it. But I’m confident in my ability.

“But everyone in the ballpark thinks he’s going to get me out, so I use that to my advantage and play free, play fast, not try to overthink the situation.”

Even if this was only a regular-season game, the hit meant a lot to Pillar.

“It’s just different chapters in your career,” he said. “Obviously, here, it’s a big moment, coming off three straight losses, feeling like we’re just in kind of one of those ruts, playing a team that’s hungry to prove they’re a good team in baseball, a lot of young players playing hard, giving us their best game. Big moment for me.

“A lot of guys in here believe in me, I believe in myself. (The) game owes you nothing. I work extremely hard every day, and sometimes you don’t get the results. and sometimes you do.”

3. In all three losses, the Braves felt they were a hit away. That one clutch hit eluded them.

This time, they broke through versus Bednar, who had not surrendered three runs in an outing since June 30 of last season.

“It was great how they battled,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We had lost three in a row and we’d put ourselves in a position, really, to win all three of those. Didn’t happen. And tonight, you’re going up against one of the better closers in the game, and it was great.”

With one out in the ninth, Matt Olson walked and Travis d’Arnaud doubled – his third of the game – to begin the rally.

In the win, Atlanta overcame a tough start for Yonny Chirinos, who allowed six runs on four homers.

4. In the sixth inning, Olson made history when he drew a bases-loaded walk.

This gave Olson his 11th straight game with an RBI, and made him the first player in franchise history to do this.

He also tied the mark for the quickest to 100 RBIs in a season, by team games. Olson collected his 100th RBI in the club’s 111th game, matching Wally Berger in 1935.

5. In that sixth inning, Ronald Acuña Jr. left the game after being hit by a 97-mph sinker.

His X-rays were negative. The Braves will evaluate him on Wednesday, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the lineup.

Stat to know

33 - Pillar has 33 ninth-inning RBIs in his career.


“Crazy thoughts go through your head in this game. You doubt your abilities sometimes when you go through a rut, so this is a big confidence booster for me, I think a big confidence booster for the team, and I’m just lucky to be a part of it.” - Pillar

Up next

Braves ace Max Fried will start Wednesday. The Pirates will send right-hander Quinn Priester to the mound. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.