Harrison's late heroics earn DH split for Pirates

Utility man belts go-ahead HR in seventh, makes great catch in eighth

Harrison's late heroics earn DH split for Pirates

NEW YORK -- Josh Harrison is one of the few Pirates who can play multiple positions well and use his speed to score from first base. Manager Clint Hurdle started Harrison at third base in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader against the Yankees. Then, in the seventh inning, Hurdle moved Harrison to left field.

Wherever Harrison was, he produced for the Pirates. To go along with his speed and glove, Harrison has also flashed his power at the plate recently.

Harrison made up for a rare baserunning blunder in the fifth inning with one swing in the seventh, leading the Pirates -- who were desperate to end their six-game road trip on a positive note -- to a 5-3 victory over the Yankees. Harrison's go-ahead solo homer to left in the seventh gave the Pirates the lead for good. Pittsburgh fell to the Yankees, 4-3, in the first game.

"I just saw a fastball and I was ready to hit," Harrison said of his homer off Alfredo Aceves. "Whatever your role is, you have to be willing to do it. I get a chance to go out there and play different positions, and I just tried to do it the best I can."

Harrison went 2-for-5 in Game 2 to bring his average to .304.

Harrison also helped preserve the Pirates' lead in the eighth inning. He made a diving catch in left field to rob Yangervis Solarte of extra bases with Derek Jeter on base as the tying run.

"Home runs are great, but any time you can make a play in the field and help out the pitcher, that's what we're there for," Harrison said. "On my first step, I knew I got the right read on it. I knew once I left my feet it was in my glove."

Before the three-game series, Hurdle praised Harrison for his play and improvement. He said Harrison was growing into his role as the Pirates' best utility player. Once again on Sunday, Hurdle was pleased with the type of energy Harrison displayed when other players showed fatigue in playing 18 innings.

"He can surprise you," Hurdle said. "He does things with intent all the time."

Starling Marte also acquitted himself well in the second game after looking overmatched with four strikeouts in the opener. Marte hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning that gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead and covered a number of the Bucs' defensive mistakes in the earlier innings.

Marte, though, left the game after the sixth inning with tightness in his left hamstring. Marte did not seem too concerned that he would miss any significant time.

"I'll be good for the next game," Marte said.

The play from both teams was sloppy at times as they played their third game in 24 hours. They combined for four errors and some unconventional plays.

Early in the game, the Pirates made two baserunning mistakes that limited their scoring opportunities.

Harrison hit a double off the left-field wall in the fifth inning, but he was then caught in a rundown between second and third base. Harrison was eventually called out, and his running mistake ended the inning and cost the Pirates the opportunity to have two runners in scoring position with two outs.

"When he called me out, I just asked if it was on the tag or did he call me out of the baseline," Harrison said. "He said the tag. I was trying my best. Stop, drop and roll, and he might have got me when I hit the ground."

Hurdle challenged the out call, while also hoping that Harrison, if out, maybe wasted enough time in the rundown for Travis Snider to score the tying run. But the ruling on the field was confirmed after replay review, ending the inning with the Yankees leading, 2-1.

In the second inning, Jose Tabata left the game because of tightness in his right leg. Tabata's injury came on a single by Chris Stewart. Ichiro Suzuki threw Tabata out at third base with ease, as Tabata slowed down and limped into third. Snider replaced Tabata in right field in the next inning.

Tabata said he does not expect to go on the 15-day disabled list.

"I felt something tight and I didn't want to continue, because if I did, it could become even more strained," he said. "I feel good and tomorrow is [and off-day]. We'll see how I feel the next day."

Starter Gerrit Cole pitched six uneven innings while striking out eight Yankees and recording his fourth victory of the season. He allowed a game-tying homer to Solarte in the sixth, but Harrison's homer in the seventh helped the righty get the win.

"I just think I had a couple of opportunities to execute some pitches after establishing the fastball," Cole said. "I just made them when I had to. I think the better players in the league minimize damage."

Hurdle's bullpen performed well behind Cole. Bryan Morris, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon combined to pitch three scoreless innings.

Cole and Hurdle each emphasized how the victory snapped the Pirates' three-game losing streak. Hurdle chuckled when he learned it was the franchise's first win in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium after losing in its first eight tries.

"We needed to win a game -- and we only had one opportunity left," he said.

Nate Taylor is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.