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Pirates great Bob Friend dies at 88

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Bob Friend, who pitched more innings than anyone in Pittsburgh Pirates history, died Sunday. He was 88.

The Pirates said Friend died at his home in Pittsburgh.

Friend holds the Pirates record for innings (3,480 1/3), starts (477) and strikeouts (1,682). The right-hander was an All-Star in three different seasons – in 1960, he made the NL roster for both All-Star games played that summer, and was the starter and winner in the first one.

Friend made his big league debut with two shutout innings for the Pirates against Cincinnati as a 20-year-old on April 28, 1951. He became a fixture in Pittsburgh’s rotation through 1965 and then played one more season, splitting his last year with the New York Yankees and Mets.

Nicknamed “The Warrior” for his remarkable durability, Friend went 197-230 with a 3.58 ERA in 602 games.

In 1955, Friend became the first pitcher to lead his league in ERA, winning the NL title with a 2.83 mark. He topped the majors in innings in 1956-57 and tied Warren Spahn for the big league lead with 22 wins in 1958, finishing third in the Cy Young Award voting.

In 1960, Friend was 18-12 with a 3.00 ERA in helping the Pirates reach the World Series. He was hit hard in two starts and a relief appearance, but Pittsburgh outlasted the Yankees in seven games to win the championship.

That season came during a string of 11 straight years he pitched more than 200 innings – topping 260 in six of them.

After his playing career ended, he was among the founding officers of the Pirates Alumni Association and stayed active as a board member.

Pirates President Frank Coonelly, in a statement, called Friend “truly one of the very best to ever wear the Pirates black and gold.”

Friend is survived by his wife Pat, son Bob and daughter Missy.

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Zack Wheeler hits first career homer

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Mets starter Zack Wheeler wasn’t content with just dominating the Phillies on the mound Tuesday night in Queens. The 28-year-old decided to have himself a three-RBI night at the plate, too, including his first career home run.

With the Mets already leading 3-0 with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Wheeler lifted a first-pitch Zach Eflin fastball out to left-center field, landing well beyond the 370-foot sign on the wall. Wheeler had previously helped his own cause, lacing a two-run double down the right field line off of Eflin in the second inning.

Wheeler entered the night with 22 hits in 194 career trips to the plate. Of his 22 hits, five went for extra bases (all doubles).

Todd Frazier broke the game open in the fifth inning, hitting a grand slam off of Drew Anderson to push the Mets’ lead to 8-0. If the Phillies lose tonight, they will have lost five of their last six games.