Pirates notebook: Josh Harrison's defense, arm pass tests

With the Arizona leading the Pirates, 2-0, in the ninth inning Tuesday at PNC Park, the Diamondbacks' Gerardo Parra challenged the arm of right fielder Josh Harrison after Ender Inciarte's single.

Harrison wasn't having it. He handled the rolling ball and retired Parra -- trying to score from second -- with a perfect throw home to catcher Russell Martin.

That kept the Diamondbacks' lead at two runs, just enough to let the Pirates win in walk-off fashion when they scored three in the ninth.

Harrison's throw came a few innings after he nearly threw out Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt at the plate in the fifth on a similar play. Both throws showed off Harrison's arm, but even more so they provided further evidence of how well Harrison has performed defensively in so many spots this season.

Though the majority of his time has been spent in right field, Harrison, 26, also has played left field, second base, third and even a few innings at shortstop. For a player, such variety presents many different angles and distances to throw the ball.

"He continues to take certain days to work on certain things," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't want to overload him and have him making all throws from all positions on a daily basis."

Hurdle said Harrison focuses on certain positions on different days, usually based on where he will play that day. If he's in the outfield, his focus will be there. If he's in the infield, he'll take pregame grounders and turn double plays.

But for Harrison, when a runner tests his arm, sometimes the best thing is to trust his instincts.

"I work at it, but, at the same time, I just go out there and be an athlete," Harrison said. "Do what I train to do."

McCutchen player of month

Andrew McCutchen was named National League Player of the Month for June. He hit .343 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 26 games. He also hit 12 doubles in what has been by far his best month this season.

"I felt pretty good," McCutchen said. "I was definitely starting to hit and get my extra-base hits, hit the ball with some power. I was feeling good throughout the month."

McCutchen's 20 extra-base hits led the NL. It is the third time McCutchen has won the award.

Liriano throws simulated game

Francisco Liriano threw a simulated game before the game Wednesday against the Diamondbacks. He was scheduled to throw four innings. Hurdle said Liriano threw all his pitches and from the windup and the stretch.

Liriano previously pitched June 10 against the Chicago Cubs but was forced to leave in the fourth because a left oblique strain.

"Saw some rust," Hurdle said of Liriano's simulated game. "[There] seem to be no complications. We'll see how he feels tomorrow and we'll map out something, probably eventually a rehab assignment."

International signing

The Pirates signed Dominican outfielder Yondry Contreras, 16, for $400,000, the Dominican Prospect League announced on Twitter. Wednesday was the first day of the signing period for international amateur free agents.

Sean Hammond: shammond@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1466 and Twitter @sean_hammond. Bill Brink contributed to this report.

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