Hot-hitting Harrison, Pirates beat Nationals for 4th straight victory
Ace pitchers Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg caught everyone's attention Saturday, but an unheralded trio of Pirates — Josh Harrison, Jose Tabata and Jared Hughes — stole the show.
Harrison and Tabata drove in key runs off Strasburg in the seventh inning, and Hughes got three huge outs to push the Pirates past the Washington Nationals, 3-2, for their fourth consecutive victory.
In front of a sellout crowd of 38,889, the showdown between right-handers Strasburg and Cole — former No. 1 overall draft picks — lived up to its hype.
“Sold out, Saturday night, a beautiful day,” Cole said. “Can you ask for anything more?”
Cole threw a career-high 112 pitches, and he pitched two more innings after tweaking his right ankle in the fourth. He yielded five hits and three walks and got seven strikeouts, then left the game with the Pirates trailing 2-1.
“A very gritty outing,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Gerrit just kept after it. He loves to compete.”
Strasburg (3-4) was more efficient with his pitches, and he had a devastating changeup early in the game. He went seven innings and allowed three runs, seven hits and two walks. He struck out seven.
Hughes (3-1) replaced Cole to start the seventh inning and faced the heart of Washington's order. Anthony Rendon fouled out. Jayson Werth and cleanup hitter Wilson Ramos grounded out.
“After that, the momentum was good going into the dugout,” Hughes said. “We don't look at the hype (of Cole versus Strasburg). We just want to get the job done.”
Russell Martin led off the bottom of the inning with a single and went to third on Starling Marte's double.
“The pitch that hurt me was I tried to bury a curveball to Marte and didn't,” Strasburg said. “He put a good swing on it.”
Bench coach Jeff Banister recalled seeing Tabata get two hits off Strasburg a couple of years ago in the Arizona Fall League. So with one out, Hurdle opted to use Tabata as a pinch hitter even though Tabata's 60 percent ground ball rate makes him a double-play candidate.
“I remembered those at-bats from before, and I told myself, ‘I know how he throws,' ” Tabata said. “He threw me two fastballs in, and I thought he might come with a breaking ball. I stayed inside it and hit it in the air.”
The sacrifice fly to center field scored Martin to tie it. Travis Snider pinch hit for Hughes and was intentionally walked.
With a 1-0 count against Harrison, Strasburg's changeup let him down.
Harrison grounded it into center field for a single. Marte scored, touching home plate an instant before Snider was thrown out at third base.
“I had three at-bats against him, and I had seen everything he throws,” said Harrison, who's hitting .324 (11 for 34) over his past 10 games. “When I went up the fourth time, I was just looking to barrel something up.”
The two teams traded solo homers in the fourth inning. Ian Desmond went deep for the Nationals.
Neil Walker tied it with his 10th homer of the season. He drove a sinker into the Nationals' bullpen for the first hit of the game off Strasburg.
Cole rolled his right ankle while on the mound in the fourth inning.
“I just tweaked it trying to get over (to cover first) on a ground ball,” Cole said. “It was a non-issue.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Burnett pitches well in farewell, but Pirates lose to Reds
- Are Pirates better positioned to win it all this postseason?
- Pirates fans on edge as season again coming down to wild card
- Starting 9: How can the Pirates catch the Cardinals in the future?
- Pirates notebook: It’s official: Cole to start wild-card game against Cubs
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Reds, Oct. 4, 2015
- Pirates notebook: Morton traces struggles to mechanics of delivery
- Marte’s 2-run homer in 12th polishes off Reds
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Reds October 3, 2015
- Cardinals clinch NL Central by beating Pirates in 2nd game of doubleheader
- Pirates standout CF McCutchen no longer needs to carry team