Two Pirates rookies will challenge Padres

A couple of rookies considered to have big upsides are expected to be in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ lineup Saturday for the third game of a four-game weekend series against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

Austin Meadows made his major league debut Friday after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis with center fielder Starling Marte going on the 10-day disabled list because of a right oblique strain.

Meadows was 2-for-4 with two singles, a stolen base and two long flies to center, and he handled both balls hit to him in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 loss. He likely will start again Saturday.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” he said of getting his first hit in his first game. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Right-hander Nick Kingham is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis in time to start for Pittsburgh against the Padres. Kingham was impressive in his first two big league starts earlier this season, going 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA. He allowed four runs and seven hits in 12 1/3 innings, with 16 strikeouts and one walk, but he was returned to the minor leagues because Pittsburgh did not need a fifth starter for several weeks.

Kingham will face San Diego for the first time on Saturday,

With starter Joe Musgrove apparently nearing a return from the disabled list, Kingham might have to really shine to remain in the big leagues.

Meadows was a first-round draft pick in 2013, Kingham a fourth-rounder in 2010. They were pegged as top prospects, but both had their development stunted and their major league debuts delayed by injuries.

“I thought he managed his at-bats well,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Meadows’ first game. “I thought he laid off pitches that were out of the zone. I thought he got his swing off. He wasn’t pushed on defense at all. Got a nice jump, stole a base.”

Pittsburgh might get catcher Francisco Cervelli back. He missed Friday’s game because of a swollen finger he sustained on a play at first a night earlier.

The Pirates (26-18) had their three-game winning streak halted, and San Diego (18-28) won for the fourth time in six games Friday in the second game of the series.

Left-hander Clayton Richard (2-5, 5.20 ERA) is set to make his team-leading 10th start for the Padres on Saturday.

Richard had a rough start to the season, with his ERA reaching 6.21 in early May, but he has rebounded with two strong starts.

Richard has pitched eight innings in successive starts for the first time in his career.

“He’s proven that (our) faith is warranted, the last couple of times out,” Padres manager Andy Green said.

“You want to do everything you can to stay in the game as long as you can,” Richard said.

On Sunday, he tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in a 5-3 win against St. Louis — and he wanted to return to the mound for the ninth inning.

“He prides himself on being able to go deep into a game,” Green said. “He was lobbying me for the ninth, and I tried to explain to him — and he’s the valedictorian of his high school class — that I was pinch-hitting for him at the exact time he was lobbying to stay in the game. His competitive nature won out over his intellect for a moment.

“But he’s been big for us in a lot of different ways — from a leadership standpoint and from an innings standpoint.”

Richard is 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA in 10 career outings, five of them starts, against the Pirates.