Harrison shines again as Pirates clip Reds, 2-1
Clint Hurdle said before Friday's game that everyone loves a good story.
The Pirates' manager cannot imagine there being a better story in baseball than the unlikely stardom of Josh Harrison.
And Hurdle said after the 2-1 victory he can't imagine a player having a better game than the one Harrison authored against the Reds.
Harrison produced several game-changing defensive plays and added three hits, including a game-tying triple in the eighth.
“It's another chapter. You can watch a lot of major league games and you'd be hard pressed to find a better all-around game than Josh had,” Hurdle said. “He was fantastic on defense. … He saved a couple runs. Every time he came to the plate he put the barrel on the ball.”
Harrison put the barrel on a first-pitch fastball from Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton in the eighth, slamming the ball off the Clemente Wall for a triple to score Andrew Lambo and tie the score 1-1.
Upon reaching third, Harrison slapped his hands together emphatically.
“You don't want to let that good one go if you're feeling good,” Harrison said. “He gave it to me first pitch.”
Lambo was called up before the game and came on to pinch-hit in the eighth. He singled in his first plate appearance with the Pirates this season.
Jose Tabata was another unlikely hero who, like Lambo, had been banished to Triple-A Indianapolis before being recalled this week.
Tabata lined a game-winning single to left to score Harrison, sending the 16th PNC Park sellout crowd of the season into a frenzy.
The Pirates (70-64) surpassed 2 million in attendance for the season.
As good as Harrison was offensively, he was perhaps better defensively.
Of the 20 balls the Reds put in play for outs, Harrison made a putout or assisted on eight of them, often in spectacular fashion.
Pirates starter Edinson Volquez said he was more focused against his former team. He did not look into the Reds dugout and joke with his friend Johnny Cueto during the game.
Volquez took a no-hitter into the seventh until Devin Mesoraco and Jay Bruce produced back-to-back hits to begin the inning.
Kris Negron followed by ripping a ground ball down the third base line. Harrison dived to his right and caught the ball.
He touched third base with his right hand for a forceout while sprawled on the ground and hopped up to throw across the infield to complete a double play. Volquez struck out in Zack Cozart to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
“It was just instinct. My right hand was closer (to the bag),” Harrison said. “It wouldn't have taken (longer) to turn around and step on the bag. Negron can run a little bit. I've played against him (in the minors).”
Said Hurdle: “He's so instinctive. It's such a quick read for him, ball off bat. His first-step quickness is excellent.”
Volquez was replaced with two outs and two on in the eighth by Tony Watson.
After breaking up Volquez's no-hit bid to begin the seventh inning, Mesoraco blooped an RBI single to left to score Billy Hamilton and give the Reds a 1-0 lead in the eighth.
But Harrison made another crucial play when he threw out Brandon Phillips, who tried to advance when Starling Marte bobbled the ball in left.
The relay throw home saved a run in a game Harrison saved multiple runs defensively.
“For me, he's the MVP,” Volquez said when asked about Harrison.
“Of the team?” a reporter asked for clarification.
Said Volquez: “Of the league.”
Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
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