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Harrison's HR snaps streak

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez throws against the Pirates during the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

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Thursday, May 17, 2012, 7:08 p.m.

Nationals left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez was the only starter in the majors to work at least 20 innings and not allow a home run this season. That changed when Josh Harrison stepped to the plate in the seventh inning Wednesday and smacked a two-run homer.

“I tried to work the count a little bit in that at-bat,” said Harrison, who is not known for his patience at the plate. “I was in a 2-1 count, and he threw a fastball over the plate.”

Harrison launched the ball over the Pirates' bullpen and into the seats, ending Gonzalez's homerless streak at 58 innings.

“It was good to see,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “A good swing of the bat. And to add a little more excitement, we started him at third and he finished in left.”

Harrison played the final two innings in left but didn't have a ball hit to him. Now that Alex Presley is back in the minors, Harrison might get a bit more time in the outfield.

“It's been a while since I'd been out there,” Harrison said. “I was ready for any ball that came.”

• The addition of Evan Meek on Wednesday gave the Pirates eight relievers. But Hurdle said the club has considered staying with an enlarged bullpen, even though the designated hitter will reduce the bench to three players during the series this weekend against Detroit. “It does give you an easier time navigating in the American League if you're a position player short,” Hurdle said. “There's no double-switching, no pinch-hitting for the pitcher.”

• The Pirates are 81-130 in interleague play, including a 12-15 mark against the Tigers. “It's always good to go back to Detroit,” said Hurdle, a Michigan native. “I don't get misty-eyed, but my heart beats when I see the Old English ‘D” on the Tigers' uniforms. That takes me back to some young days in Michigan.” Hurdle and a few Pirates players will visit the Detroit Lions' training facility this morning.

• This weekend, Hurdle will match wits with Tigers skipper Jim Leyland. “I know that if I'm in the dugout and Jimmy's in the other dugout, I'm probably in a pretty good place,” Hurdle said. “I have that much personal and professional respect for him.”

• Righty Jeff Karstens (shoulder inflammation) will throw a bullpen session today. After that, he'll be re-evaluated and the Pirates will plot the next step of his rehab process.

— Rob Biertempfel

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