After ugly start, Pirates hold on for win in second game of doubleheader



NEW YORK -- About an hour after their third consecutive loss, the Pirates found themselves off to an ugly start in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Errors, baserunning blunders and injuries reared their heads, with a balk thrown in for good measure.

Somehow they held fast with the score tied, and that's where Josh Harrison and Tony Watson came in.

Harrison and Watson provided, then preserved, a 5-3 win against the New York Yankees, preventing the Pirates from losing four in a row and six out of seven as they concluded their road trip.

"Definitely a good momentum win heading back home now with the off day," said Watson, who pitched 11/3 scoreless innings.

They lost two outfielders due to tight hamstrings in the process -- the right hamstring for Jose Tabata, the left one for Starling Marte. Marte said he felt the tightness in the dugout after his two-run home run in the sixth.

The Pirates lost, 4-3, in the first game.

Harrison untied a 3-3 score in the seventh. He turned on a fastball up and in from Alfredo Aceves (0-2) and drove it out for his second home run this season.

"I went up there and just battled and got a good pitch and put a good swing on it," Harrison said.

Watson entered with a one-run lead, two outs and the bases empty in the seventh, then promptly put runners on second and third with a single and double. Travis Snider cut off Brian Roberts' double and kept speedy Brett Gardner from scoring, bringing Mark Teixeira to the plate.

"We wanted to pound him in, try and get the changeup down and away and maybe get a weak groundball," Watson said. "Definitely early contact, we don't want him being up there battling."

Teixeira popped out.

Harrison started the game at third base, spelling Pedro Alvarez against Yankees left-hander Vidal Nuno, but moved to left field to replace Marte. After Derek Jeter's pinch-hit single in the eighth, Harrison made a full-extension diving catch on Yangervis Solarte's line drive to left field.

"Solarte crushed that ball," Watson said.

"My first step, I knew I got the right read on it and I knew I was going to be able to lay out and catch it," Harrison said.

The catch prevented Jeter from at least reaching scoring position and possibly scoring. Watson struck out the inning's final two batters.

"I thought I was going to have a double," Solarte said through a translator. "I was thinking Jeter was going to score. That was a great catch."

Jordy Mercer doubled in the ninth and scored on two sacrifices to add an insurance run.

Both teams played an ugly second game. Chris Stewart picked off Gardner at third after a leadoff triple in the first. Both teams made two errors in the second, leading to runs for each, and the Pirates ran into two outs on the bases.

After striking out four times in the first game, Marte hit a two-run homer in the sixth of the second to put the Pirates ahead, 3-2. That lead lasted for a few minutes before Solarte tied the score with a solo shot in the bottom half.

Gerrit Cole struck out eight and allowed three runs in six innings to improve to 4-3. He downplayed the experience of playing for the first time against the team that drafted him in the first round out of high school.

"It's just another win right now," Cole said. "We're trying to get as many as we can get. The sentimental stuff doesn't really mean anything."

Mark Melancon, who had surrendered a lead Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers, worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save this season.

Neil Walker and Tony Sanchez homered in the first game, but the four runs the Yankees scored in the first two innings were enough.

Charlie Morton (0-6) allowed the first five batters he faced to reach base. Three of them scored. He walked leadoff man Gardner, Jeter reached on a bunt single and Jacoby Ellsbury was hit in the foot.

That loaded the bases with no outs for Teixeira, who singled to center to score two runs. Brian McCann's single drove in another.

After the second, Morton faced the minimum 15 batters through the next five innings.

"That's kind of when things started to change, when I was more consistent with off-speed and working in off the plate," Morton said.

Bill Brink: bbrink@post-gazette.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.


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