By Alan Saunders
May 26, 2016
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole rounds third base after hitting a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a baseball game Thursday, May 26, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/John Heller)
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Josh Harrison let an illness hold him out of the starting lineup, but didn't let it stop him from being a big part of a Pirates win.
Harrison came off the bench to hit a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning Thursday that put the Pirates ahead to stay in an 8-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
''I was hurting, let's just leave it at that. I wasn't feeling good at all,'' Harrison said. ''I felt good enough to pick up the bat today. Yesterday, I couldn't pick it up at all.''
Harrison's clutch pinch hit bailed out reliever A.J. Schugel (1-1), who earned his first major-league win despite giving up two runs and surrendering the lead he had inherited from starter Gerrit Cole in the top half of the sixth.
''I have a few people to thank for that one, mostly (Harrison) and the offense,'' Schugel said after his milestone victory. ''Cole pitched his butt off and I wish I could have thrown a scoreless one for him.''
Arizona starter Patrick Corbin (2-4) took the loss, as he was responsible for both of the runners that scored on Harrison's double, which was hit off reliever Jake Barrett.
From the beginning of the game, Cole did not have his best stuff -- at least on the mound.
He nearly hit Jean Segura with the first pitch of the game and allowed Segura and Jason Bourn to hit back-to-back doubles to open the first inning with a 1-0 Arizona lead. He was able to hold the Diamondbacks to that one unearned run over five innings, but had to extricate himself from jams in the first three innings, stranding eight Arizona runners.
He finally settled in, throwing 1-2-3 frames in the fourth and fifth, but with 106 pitches through five innings, his afternoon came to a premature end.
''It's no secret I wasn't that sharp, but you're going to have days like that,'' Cole said. ''In the third inning, we started to get some traction with moving the ball inside and out, up and down, but at that point, I think it was probably like 50 pitches through two innings.''
His bat was much sharper. In the third inning, Cole helped his own cause with a 409-foot, three-run home run to left-center field that scored Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco. He added a double in the fourth inning to finish 2 for 2 to raise his batting average to .200 on the season.
The Diamondbacks took advantage of Cole's replacement, Schugel. With two outs in the top of the sixth, two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt, who came through with a two-run single.
The Pirates added three insurance runs in the eighth inning. Andrew Chafin loaded the bases and then gave way to Evan Marshall, who gave up a two-run double to Jung Ho Kang and an RBI double to Starling Marte.
Rob Scahill, Neftali Feliz and Mark Melancon pitched scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth for the Pirates. With the win, the Pirates swept the three-game series in Pittsburgh and finished the season series between the clubs with a 5-1 record.
Cole has been taking extra batting practice with manager Clint Hurdle, and his work in that department is paying off.
''I just had a lot of head movement,'' Cole said. ''When I'm out for early batting practice, we've just been trying to keep my head steady.''
Cole's mound opponent, Corbin, acquitted himself nicely with the bat, as well. He went 2 for 3 and his single in the sixth started the rally that led to Goldschmidt's two-run single.
Segura returned to the starting lineup and went 2 for 5 with two runs scored after a one-game absence. He was held out with concussion-like symptoms on Wednesday after being hit in the head by an Arquimedes Caminero fastball on Tuesday. Harrison didn't start because of flu-like symptoms, but pinch hit.
Diamondbacks: Robbie Ray (2-13, 4.18 ERA) has thrown over 100 pitches in each of his last four starts, but has made it to the sixth inning just once in that span. He'll try to reverse that trend when the Diamondbacks return home to face San Diego.
Pirates: Jonathon Niese (4-2, 4.75 ERA) will look to extend his streak of three consecutive quality starts. The Pirates will face the Texas in a three-game series as part of a six-game road trip that also takes them to Miami.