Harrison leads Pirates into second matchup with Reds
(SportsNetwork.com) - It's an even matchup, until Josh Harrison arrives.
The Pittsburgh All-Star was the difference-maker in the Pirates' win in Friday's opener with the Cincinnati Reds and he'll aim to continue a torrid stretch when the teams meet Saturday night in game two of their three-game set at PNC Park.
The Pirates had won three straight to begin the series, but appeared on the verge of a loss upon giving up the game's first run in the top of the eighth inning. Until, that is, Harrison tied the game with an RBI triple, then scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
Pittsburgh has won six times in eight games, a stretch during which Harrison has hit .343, driven in seven runs and homered twice.
"He's unbelievable," Pirates starter Edinson Volquez said. "He can do everything. For me, he's the MVP with the way he's been playing. He's an exciting player."
The Reds have won just five of their last 23 road games, including six straight losses.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is tied for the best home record in the majors -- 23-9 -- since mid-June, and is in hot pursuit of a National League wild card playoff berth.
Cincinnati sends Alfredo Simon to the mound after he finally ended a seven- start winless skid by beating Atlanta, 5-3, on Sunday. He gave up one run in seven innings of work.
In seven starts since the All-Star break, he'd been 0-5 with a 5.40 earned run average.
"Simon was ahead in the count and was able to use his whole complement of pitches," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "There are times when a pitcher is throwing with the same velocity but it doesn't feel like it. He tries to manufacture more. Today, he just executed his pitches."
In two meetings with the Pirates this season, he's 2-0 and has allowed a .188 batting average.
Pittsburgh starts Vance Worley, who's lost three straight starts after winning five of his initial six decisions in 2014.
The skid has seen him compile a 6.11 ERA and he was raked for four runs on 12 hits on Sunday in a 4-3 loss at Milwaukee.
He's faced the Reds four times and is 1-1 with a 5.21 ERA.
Cincinnati has won nine of 14 games with the Pirates in 2014.
On Friday, pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the day, singled with one out in the home eighth off Jonathan Broxton (4-2). Lambo scampered home on Harrison's triple off the right-field wall, then Jose Tabata followed with a chopper through the hole on the left side that plated Harrison for a 2-1 lead.
Tony Watson (10-1) recorded one out in the eighth for the win before Mark Melancon came on in the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning for his 25th save of the season.
Volquez, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, was on the hook for the loss until his offense finally got going. Volquez allowed one run on three hits and three walks while striking out six in 7 2/3 innings.
08/30 09:38:24 ET