Harrison cashing in on rare chances with RISP

Pirates third baseman drives in two runs with a double

Harrison cashing in on rare chances with RISP

PHOENIX -- If you thought you saw Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison's eyes grow bigger when he strode to the plate with two men on base in the second inning Friday night, you saw correctly.

Except Harrison always has that look with a bat in his hands.

"Any time I'm in the batter's box, my eyes get big," Harrison said.

On this occasion, his swing was big, too: Harrison lined Josh Collmenter's pitch off Chase Field's right-center wall to drive in both runners and leave the eventual 4-1 win over the D-backs in Gerrit Cole's hands.

Cole had been one of the men on base for Harrison's rip, having followed Jordy Mercer's two-out single with one of his own.

It takes such unlikely developments -- after all, Cole is considered a good hitting pitcher, and his average now is .111 -- for Harrison to get an opportunity to hit with runners in scoring position. He led the league last season by hitting .372 with RISP. But now he shares the lot of leadoff batters, Harrison's current daily deal.

"I happened to find myself in a good position today," Harrison said. "Jordy and Cole started it with two outs, and we know we can get things done with two outs. I put the barrel on a pitch that was over the plate."

The hit raised Harrison's current RISP average to .500. But now that only reflects a 3-for-6, and has yielded three RBIs (he has a total of five, but two others came on game-opening home runs).

"As a leadoff hitter, I wouldn't say you really think about it, but you definitely know when you get a situation that's different from leading off an inning," Harrison said. "It's nice for a change to go up and see men on base, and to get to see the guy out of the stretch.

"So it can be hard from the leadoff position, but you want to stay with your approach, hit the ball hard and let the rest take care of itself."

Touching all the bases:

• First: Charlie Morton's next rehab assignment will be a Monday outing of 70 pitches and four or five ups -- squad-game speak for innings. Morton is continuing his recovery from September labrum repair surgery

• Second: Harrison's four career leadoff homers put him one shy of tying Bill Virdon, Omar Moreno and Cal Abrams, who are all tied for fifth place on the club's all-time list led by Barry Bonds' 20.

• Third: Andrew McCutchen went 0-for-3 and is in a rare extended slump (0-for-12) that has dropped his average to .189.

• Home: Mark Melancon picked up his second three-up, three-down save in as many days, and he has retired the last seven men he has faced.

Melancon gets the save

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.