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Harrison's 'hustle double' energizes Bucs' offense

Third baseman goes on to score Pirates' first run on Cervelli's single
MLB.com @Tom_Singer

CHICAGO -- In hustling out a leg double in the fifth inning of a scoreless game, Josh Harrison did more than just put himself in position to score the winning run Sunday.

By contributing that big hit toward the Bucs' getaway 3-0 triumph over the Cubs, Harrison brought to an end a bizarre trend.

Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- In hustling out a leg double in the fifth inning of a scoreless game, Josh Harrison did more than just put himself in position to score the winning run Sunday.

By contributing that big hit toward the Bucs' getaway 3-0 triumph over the Cubs, Harrison brought to an end a bizarre trend.

Full Game Coverage

During the four-game losing streak that ended Sunday, the Pirates' three hottest hitters -- Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Harrison -- had combined to hit .447 (21-for-47). During the immediately preceding four-game winning streak, the same trio had hit .242 (8-for-33).

When people talk about a team being out of sync, that's a pretty good illustration of it.

Harrison got a running start to ending that statistical oddity when he lifted a Jake Arrieta pitch into short center, too shallow for outfielders Chris Coghlan and Dexter Fowler and being carried by a 23-mph wind away from shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Addison Russell -- which left second base uncovered..

"I was running hard out of the box, and when I see it drop and there's nobody at second, I just kept going," said Harrison. "Any time we get guys on base, we look capitalize. And he came through with a big hit."

Harrison referred to Francisco Cervelli, whose single to right promptly chased home what for a long time loomed to be the day's only run.

Video: PIT@CHC: Cervelli's RBI single puts Bucs ahead in 5th

"He's out of the box, makes a clean turn [around first] and goes," manager Clint Hurdle said. "A good play. A hustle double. We've seen it before, and it was very good to see. That's his game. That energy and edge he brings got us on the board."

Harrison has gone 12-for-25 (.480) in the course of a six-game hitting streak that has lifted his average from .173 to .230. Along with the hits, the élan is also back.

"A work in progress," he said. "We all want to continue to get better. At the end of the day, barreling up balls is all you can control."

Some days, not barreling up, leaving it at the wind's mercy, is even better.

Touching all the bases

• First: A.J. Burnett's five walks were his most in a start for the Pirates since Aug. 12, 2012, when he also had five in San Diego.

• Second: Tony Watson stretched his latest scoreless string to 13 innings by putting up a zero in the eighth.

• Third: Jung Ho Kang is hitting .345 in nine games against the Cubs -- and .268 against everybody else.

• Home: The Bucs avoided what would have been their first three-game sweep in Wrigley Field since April 2008.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison