Pittsburgh Pirates' Eric Fryer follows through on an RBI single during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, July 5, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Their former backup catcher could not deny the extra buzz facing his old team for the first time since resurfacing.
Fryer had two hits and three RBIs in his first game with the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 5-2 victory Tuesday night.
"I mean, I was amped up to play," Fryer said. "The familiarity of the team, the atmosphere I was in kind of made it a little easier to kind of harness it back and let the game come to me a little bit."
The Cardinals released Fryer when backup catcher Brayan Pena came off the 15-day disabled list and the Pirates, with whom he played in the minors, claimed him off waivers on Sunday. He batted .368 with St. Louis with five RBIs in 38 at-bats behind seven-time All-Star Yadier Molina but Pena has a two-year, $5 million contract.
Fryer said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told him "it's just one of those things that had to work out this way."
"It was nice for him to say it like that, but I'm on to Pittsburgh, I guess," Fryer said.
The Pittsburgh bullpen worked five scoreless innings in support of lefty Steven Brault, who allowed one earned run in four innings while throwing 82 pitches and adding a single in his debut.
Brault learned he would be making the start two days earlier and remembered everything except his glove, which should arrive Wednesday from Indianapolis. He borrowed Jeff Locke's and lived up to expectations.
"I am forgetful at times and I had a little bit of nerves going, I'll use that as an excuse," Brault said. "Overall, I think I reacted well and just tried to keep doing what I've been doing."
The 24-year-old Brault pitched in place of fellow rookie Jameson Taillon, placed on the DL on Sunday with shoulder fatigue. Brault didn't know if he would start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs in the final game before the All-Star break.
Juan Nicasio (7-6) worked two scoreless innings and Mark Melancon finished for his 21st consecutive save and 25th in 26 chances.
Josh Harrison and David Freese added RBIs for the Pirates, who have taken the first two games of a four-game set and are 7-4 in the season series, closing within one-half game of the second-place Cardinals in the NL Central.
Mike Leake (5-7) gave up five runs in six innings for the Cardinals, who got RBIs from Jedd Gyorko and Matt Holliday. Leake has lost his last three outings with a 6.06 ERA.
"Freese was me missing location but Fryer did a good job of putting the ball in play," Leake said. "They weren't terribly located balls, but not the best."
Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang, under investigation by Chicago police on an allegation of sexual assault, singled pinch-hitting to open the ninth. Manager Clint Hurdle declined comment after the game.
Harrison stayed alive in a rundown between third and home long enough for the hitter and runner to take two bases in the fifth. The Cardinals finally got him out on a play scored 3-2-5-3-6-4.
Pirates: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (facial fracture) threw 61 pitches in a four-inning simulated game. ... RHP Gerrit Cole (biceps) struck out six and allowed two hits for Triple-A Indianapolis to begin a rehab start.
Cardinals: SS Jhonny Peralta was taken out after three innings with discomfort in his left thumb. The team said it was unrelated to the surgery for a torn thumb ligament in March.
Matt Adams, who replaced Peralta in the lineup, is in an 0-for-31 slump.
Pirates: Locke (8-5, 5.13) has won his last three starts with a 1.93 ERA and bested Oakland ace Sonny Gray his last time out.
Cardinals: Jaime Garcia (6-6, 3.84) allowed one run in eight innings against the Brewers his last time out. He has a 0.57 ERA against Pittsburgh in six games, four starts.