Josh Harrison had a double, a homer and five RBIs as the Pirates whipped the Brewers 8-3 in Milwaukee Friday night.
It was, of course, an important win for the Pirates, whose now-unlikely pursuit of the NL Central title would have become even less likely if they had let the Brewers pad their division lead. Heading into tonight's game, I was apprehensive, and I was even more so once Jeff Locke left a high changeup for Ryan Braun to smack for a two-run homer in the first. In the past several years, it's felt like the Pirates have entered the cold, enormous, futuristic Miller Park with the gobsmacked terror of a Hunger Games contestant entering the Capitol, and with about as much chance of success.
This time, though, the Pirates quickly climbed the tree and started shooting. Russell Martin led off the second by reaching on Aramis Ramirez's throwing error, and the Pirates soon loaded the bases. Jordy Mercer brought one run home with a sacrifice fly, and Harrison knocked in the other two with a double to right, courteously TOOTBLAN'ing only after bringing all the other runners home. Then Andrew McCutchen singled in the third and came home on Neil Walker's triple.
Harrison padded the Pirates' lead in the fourth with an RBI single, and in the fifth, McCutchen hit his first home run since returning from the disabled list. In the eighth, Marte reached on Jean Segura's error, then came home when Harrison blasted off to left.
If Harrison was the Pirates' Katniss Everdeen tonight, Locke was its Peeta Mellark, surviving despite his obvious weakness. He allowed just two runs but somehow walked six and struck out none. But let's not dwell on that. This was a tremendous game for Harrison, and it's great to see McCutchen potentially rounding into form as well.