Harrison delivers at plate, on bases to spark Bucs
Outfielder collects four hits, including go-ahead homer, in series finale
DENVER -- When Josh Harrison dances his way out of trouble between second and third, good things tend to happen for the Pirates.
Exactly one month ago, Harrison outmaneuvered the Mets' rundown and went on to provide the game-winning hit in the 11th inning.
On Sunday, Harrison juked out the Rockies in similar fashion, earning two steals in a slick sixth-inning rundown before coming home to score the go-ahead run. And after the Rockies tied it in the seventh, Harrison stepped up again in the eighth to deliver the go-ahead solo homer in the Pirates' 7-5 victory at Coors Field.
The win was also manager Clint Hurdle's 300th in a Pirates uniform. But Pittsburgh's skipper was more concerned with the four hits, two runs, two RBIs and fancy footwork Harrison featured during his two-position performance.
"It was so significant I wasn't even aware of it until five minutes ago," Hurdle said of his career benchmark. "That's not what it's about. It's about our guys battling today. … You're not going to get much of a bigger day from Harrison than what you got today."
Down 4-2 to start the sixth, Travis Snider swatted a pinch-hit, two-run homer off right-handed reliever Chad Bettis to tie it up with no outs. Harrison then singled on Bettis' second offering to put an end to his night, bringing on right-hander Tommy Kahnle.
With Polanco batting, Harrison took off for second, just dodging Josh Rutledge's glove before sliding past the bag. But with Rutledge now blocking second, Harrison had no choice but to take off for third.
"As I got off [the base] I was like, it's easier for me to just try to make something happen as opposed to trying to reach back to second," Harrison said. "And something happened."
The Rockies made five throws back and forth in the rundown before Harrison decided enough was enough. When Wilin Rosario received the ball, Harrison shook him with a double move and as the Rockies catcher was falling on his back, Harrison slid into third with ease.
"My best chance was to try get a guy who was carrying an extra 15-20 pounds of gear," Harrison said. "The move ended up working out."
Yet it looked as if it was all for naught after Polanco and Andrew McCutchen both struck out swinging. Hurdle swapped out Gaby Sanchez for Ike Davis to set up the lefty-righty matchup.
Davis came through with a go-ahead RBI double but that lead would be short lived with Nolan Arenado evening it up with his second home run in as many days in the seventh. That left Harrison to play the role of hero yet again and this time, he did it with his bat off a familiar foe.
Harrison was ready to jump on left-hander Rex Brothers early when he entered the game. Having faced him as far back as 2007 in the Cape Cod League, Harrison knew Brothers liked to get ahead in the count by working over the plate early.
And on Sunday, Harrison blasted Brothers' first offering over the opposite-field fence to give the Pirates a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"[Brothers and I] both played together in the Cape so we have history," Harrison said. "And with the series at home and us coming here, I've faced him and he's been getting ahead of me. … Today was one of those moments where I said I was feeling comfortable. … I was ready to hit anything."
Four pitches later, Polanco sent a ball on the same trajectory to give the Pirates a 6-4 lead.
Much as they did most of the day, the bullpen worked their magic from there. Right-hander Edinson Volquez lasted just 4 1/3 innings and surrendered four runs (two earned) on six hits and a four walks before right-hander Jared Hughes came on to bail him out.
The Pirates' 'pen tossed 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run the rest of the way in the form of Arenado's solo shot off Watson.
Watson (7-1) went on to recover nicely, giving a stretched-thin bullpen two innings before handing it over to right-hander Mark Melancon for his 19th save.
"It was another big outing from Watson to get hit with the home run from the second hitter, third pitch he throws and then just finish the way he finished," Hurdle said. "Walking into today, we felt we were going to go get nine outs of the last two guys if we had to."
After compiling just nine hits through the first two games, the Pirates totaled 16 Sunday to end what was a forgettable series in style.
"It was just fun to watch us play today with the energy and the effort that we played with after dropping the first two [which] weren't really close games," Hurdle said.