Pirates rally to beat Rockies, avoid sweep

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DENVER -- Josh Harrison was electric at the plate and on the base paths Sunday, leading the Pirates to a 7-5 win against the Colorado Rockies to avoid the sweep at Coors Field.

Harrison went 4 for 6, with two stolen bases -- one on one of his famous rundown maneuvers -- and hit a solo home run in the seventh, which stood as the winning run. Gregory Polanco followed with a solo shot.

"It's fun to watch this kid play. He's a backyard ballplayer that continues to find ways to help us win," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You saw it once, you said I've never seen that. Well you just saw it again. There's no tag, he stays in motion. ... We've seen him do this twice. He's an athletic guy. If there would've been any gas in the tank I think he would've gone for home."

The Pirates (55-49) head to San Francisco to face the Giants for three games.

The Pirates had taken a 5-4 lead in the sixth but the Rockies tied it in the seventh when Nolan Arenado hit a solo home run off reliever Tony Watson.

Harrison pulled off another one of his wild rundowns in a three-run sixth inning and scored when Ike Davis singled to right field, giving the Pirates a 5-4 lead.

Harrison over-slid second base on a steal attempt, and when the tag missed him, he took off for third, and found his way safely to the base, eluding multiple tag attempts just like he did June 27 against the New York Mets in the 10th inning.

"It's just natural. I do whatever comes to mind in the moment," Harrison said. "I knew I was safe on the steal. I felt myself over-sliding. He tagged me while I was still on the bag. As I got off it was easy for me to make something happen as opposed to reaching back to second because he was right there. And something happened."

He admitted he thought momentarily about breaking for home.

Travis Snider had tied the score, 4-4, with a pinch-hit home run earlier in the inning.

The big sixth inning came on the heels of strong relief appearance by Jared Hughes.

Starter Edinson Volquez had loaded the bases in the fifth with one out on a walk, double and intentional walk.

Hurdle went to Hughes, who got Brandon Barnes to hit into a double play in two pitches to end the inning.

Barnes hooked the first pitch hard, but foul down the line, which Hughes said helped remind him how the sinker plays at altitude.

"Less of an ability to miss up because the ball doesn't move as much. The big thing is getting the ball down," Hughes said. "My first one I left up a little bit and he had that shot down the line that was barely foul. So I got it down and got the groundball. It helped me understand if I leave it up he's going to hit the heck out of it."

The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the second with a bases-loaded single by Harrison and sacrifice fly by Polanco.

DJ LeMahieu drove in Willin Rosario in the bottom of the inning and the Rockies scored three runs in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead.

Volquez had one out when he got Rosario to hit a grounder to third. But instead of a quick second out, Pedro Alvarez made his 21st "throwing" error of the season (23rd total).

He moved forward and to his left to cleanly field the ball, then double-clutched before throwing it near Rosario's head several feet before the bag. Barnes hit a two-run shot off Volquez after that and Charlie Blackmon drove in LeMahieu with a double.

Volquez went just 41/3 innings, giving up four runs, but only two earned. He walked four, struck out two and gave up one home run.

"That's part of the game. I just wanted to keep pitching," said Volquez, whose pitch count reached 99 before Hurdle went to Hughes with the bases loaded. "I have a hard time pitching in Colorado. This is not a nice place for me to pitch. They always find a way to score some runs against me when they play at home. We're just glad we won [Sunday] and get out of here. Hughes did a great job making a nice pitch and saving some runs."

Rockies starter Franklin Morales went just four innings, giving up six hits, two earned runs while walking five and striking out three.


Jenn Menendez jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez

First Published July 27, 2014 12:00 AM

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