Harrison powers Bucs to split with Yankees
Diving through the air, fully outstretched, Josh Harrison might have been the only one in the ballpark who knew he was going to make that incredible catch in the eighth inning.
And boy, it felt good when ball met leather — even better than watching his tiebreaking homer soar over the left field wall an inning earlier.
After a late-game switch from third base to left field, Harrison laid out to grab Yangervis Solarte’s line drive Sunday, helping to preserve the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first win in the Bronx in 54 years, 5-3 over the New York Yankees for a doubleheader split.
“Home runs are great, but any time you can make a play in the field and help out the pitcher it feels good,” Harrison said. “I knew once I left my feet it was in there.”
Mark Teixeira had a two-run single and Brett Gardner added an RBI double as New York beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in the opener of the Yankees’ first single-admission twinbill since 2004.
The Pirates had lost all eight games at old and new Yankee Stadium in interleague play. They last beat New York on the road in Game 5 of the 1960 World Series.
“It’s just another win,” said Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole, who grew up a Yankees fan. “We need as many as we can, and the other stuff doesn’t matter.”
Cole (4-3), who turned down the Yankees when they drafted him in 2008 to go to UCLA, struck out eight in six sharp innings to help the Pirates snap a three-game skid.
Starling Marte hit a two-run homer off Vidal Nuno in the sixth inning of the second game after striking out four times in the opener. Marte, though, left with left hamstring tightness in the seventh inning. Neil Walker and Tony Sanchez homered for Pittsburgh in the opener.
“I’ll be good for the next game,” Marte said.
Harrison, who ran into the third out of the fifth inning before a run could cross the plate, switched from third base to left field in place of Marte. Then in the eighth, with pinch-hitter Derek Jeter on first following a single, Solarte hit a sharp liner to left. Harrison raced to his right and caught it with a fully extended dive toward the line.
“Harrison was a big reason they won the second game today. His defense, his offense really hurt us today. Sol put a great at-bat as well and hit a rocket,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You don’t see guys lay out 320 feet away very often, but he did.”
Former Yankees catcher Chris Stewart had two RBIs for the Pirates. Fill-in closer Mark Melancon, who broke into the big leagues with New York, pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Solarte homered in the sixth to tie it 3-all and singled for the Yankees, who had won four straight.
The teams looked as if they lost focus during the 38-minute break between games, coming out for Game 2 in front of a fraction of the 46,858 who attended the opener and making four quick errors. The second game was scheduled as a makeup for Friday night’s rainout.
Gardner was picked off third base in the first inning, a warmup for a sloppy second in which both clubs appeared to forget the fundamentals.