Baseball / Sports

Pirates win in dramatic pitchers duel, 2-1, over Reds

PITTSBURGH -- A strong argument could be made that the two most pleasant surprises for the Pirates this season have been Josh Harrison and Edinson Volquez.

Harrison began the season as a bench player who was expected to be not much more than an ultra-utility guy and Volquez was signed in the offseason off the scrap heap after several underwhelming seasons with the Reds, Padres and Dodgers.

But all Harrison has done is become one of the Pirates best and most important players while Volquez has become the Pirates most consistent pitcher.

Friday the value of both players was on full display as Volquez turned in one of the most impressive starts by a Pirates pitcher this year and he did so with the help of Harrison, who made four spectacular plays in the field to go along with three hits.

Volquez, who had a no-hitter through six innings and pitched 7 2/3 innings, and Harrison led the Pirates to a 2-1 win before a sellout crowd of 37,209 at PNC Park.

It was the third win in a row for the Pirates (70-64) and it broke a two-game winning streak for the fourth-place Reds (65-70), who were hoping to get close the gap with the Pirates and get back into the wild card race this weekend.

Volquez (12-7) struck out six and walked three and needed to be every bit as dominant as he was because Reds starter Mike Leake was nearly as good for the seven innings he lasted.

Leake held the Pirates scoreless through seven innings and though he wasn't quite as dominant as Volquez -- he allowed six hits -- he never was in real danger in any inning.

The Reds finally scored a run in the eighth when speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton singled then stole second and scored on an RBI single by Devin Mesoraco.

The damage could have been worse but Brandon Phillips was thrown out at the plate by Harrison, who made a heads up play to pick up a mishandled throw and fire it to catcher Russell Martin to easily get Phillips.

That was one of four huge plays Harrison made in the game as he also made diving stops in the top of the fourth and seventh to rob the Reds of hits and he made an excellent play to cleanly field a liner by Phillips in the sixth that saved a run.

The single by Mesoraco, however, came after Clint Hurdle made a pitching change and brought Tony Watson in to try and get the final out of the eighth.

But the Pirates came right back in the bottom of the eighth when pinch hitter Andrew Lambo singled with one out and then scored to tie the game on a triple off the wall by Harrison.

Harrison then scored what turned out to be the winning run on a single by Jose Tabata.

Lambo was on the bench because he had been called up from Class AAA Indianapolis and activated him before the game.

The Pirates needed him as they were shorthanded due to injuries to Pedro Alvarez (sprained foot) and Travis Snider (hamstring discomfort) and while his defense is still a work in progress, the one thing he can certainly do is hit and he showed that in his lone at bat Friday.

Lambo, who was was hitting .328 (78-for-238) with 19 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 61 games with Indianapolis, was supposed to be in the mix as the Pirates starting first baseman to start the season but a poor spring took him out of the competition and he has spent the season in Indianapolis.

Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton (4-2) took the loss for the Reds while Watson (10-1) got the win.

(c)2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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