Josh Harrison’s first major league hit prompted hugs from his teammates. The second one helped them win a game.
Harrison stroked a tying single with two outs in the eighth inning off gritty starter R.A. Dickey, and Neil Walker put Pittsburgh ahead with a two-run single that sent the Pirates past the New York Mets 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Making his big league debut, Harrison also singled in the third inning for his first career hit, and the ball was tossed into the Pittsburgh dugout to be saved as a souvenir.
“I don’t think really any emotions came over me,” Harrison said. “My teammates were probably more excited for me. They were all giving me hugs and I was just giving them a hug back, but I was so caught up in the heat of the moment worried about running the bases that I didn’t really like, jump for joy.”
Generously listed at 5-foot-8, Harrison was called up from the minors Monday when the Pirates placed reserve infielder Steve Pearce on the disabled list.
“It just felt like I had been doing it my whole life. That’s how comfortable I felt, you know? Which allowed me to go out there and perform,” Harrison said. “It’s all I ever thought it would be. Just smiling from ear to ear, and we were able to get a win so it makes it that much better. I can enjoy it.”
Pittsburgh got another fine outing from a starting pitcher, too. This time it was James McDonald, who gave up his only run on an infield dribbler.
McDonald allowed five hits in six innings against New York’s depleted lineup before Evan Meek (1-1) worked a perfect seventh. Jose Veras did the same in the eighth and Joel Hanrahan got three quick outs to end it.
Pirates starters have gone 12 consecutive games without allowing more than two earned runs.
“Those guys have been setting the tone all year. If you would have said it was 35 games in a row I’d believe you,” Hanrahan said. “They’ve really stepped it up this year. All of ’em have been more aggressive throwing strikes and going deep into the game.”
The banged-up Mets, meanwhile, reverted to their punchless ways at the plate. After totaling 16 runs and 32 hits over the previous two days, the only time they scored was on Jason Bay’s scratch single in the first.
Missing injured sluggers David Wright and Ike Davis, New York has gone 10 games without a home run for the first time since 1979.
Dickey (2-6) did his best to make the lone run stand up. Knocked out of his previous start by an injury to his right foot, the 36-year-old knuckleballer struck out a career-high 10 and took a two-hit shutout into the eighth.
“My foot was a non-issue tonight,” Dickey said. “I had some pain, wasn’t unexpected.”
Pitching with a torn plantar fascia, he had retired straight 13 batters before Ronny Cedeno singled on the first pitch of the inning. Dickey set down the next two hitters – sprawling face-first on the infield grass when he dived for a bunt that was caught by first baseman Nick Evans.
But the right-hander grazed Jose Tabata on the elbow with a knuckler and, after a visit from pitching coach Dan Warthen, Harrison lined the next delivery past a diving Evans into right field for his first career RBI.
Harrison advanced to second on the throw to the infield, making it with a headfirst slide, and the fired-up rookie clapped his hands together hard.
“Yeah, I got pretty excited,” he said. “I got pretty pumped because it was a tie ballgame and we had two runners in scoring position.”
Andrew McCutchen, who had whiffed his first three times up, drew a walk to load the bases. Walker then lined an 0-2 pitch to center to put Pittsburgh up 3-1.
The switch-hitting cleanup man batted right-handed all night against Dickey, saying that tactic had helped him see knuckleballs better in the past. Walker went 1 for 4 with a strikeout.
“His stuff was just nasty tonight,” Walker said.
Dickey said he exchanged text messages in the past few days with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who had a similar injury.
“He gave some advice,” Dickey said. “What he had is a little different that what I have.”
Brandon Wood replaced Harrison at third base in the bottom of the eighth and looped a two-run single to left-center in the ninth off Bobby Parnell, activated from the disabled list Monday.
“They did tonight what we need to do – get a two-out hit,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
NOTES: Pirates C Ryan Doumit was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of his left ankle, without major ligament damage. His return is uncertain, but he is expected to be sidelined more than a month. ... Pearce, also placed on the DL Monday, has a partial tear of his right calf. His status is week to week, the team said. ... C Dusty Brown made his first start for the Pirates. ... Mets SS Jose Reyes, on the bereavement list following his grandmother’s death, is expected back in time to play Thursday afternoon in the series finale, general manager Sandy Alderson said.