By Thomas Harding and George Von Benko
PITTSBURGH -- Not long ago, Josh Harrison rejoined the Pirates' lineup. On Friday night, he rejoined the team's fun by delivering a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning of a 5-3 victory over the Rockies at PNC Park in front of 32,607.
After missing 38 games with a right thumb injury and going 2-for-13 in his first six games back, Harrison stepped up as a pinch-hitter with two on and two outs to single off Scott Oberg (3-3), breaking a 3-3 tie as the National League Wild Card-leading Pirates won for the ninth time in 11 games and 13th in the last 16. Gregory Polanco, who earlier made two key throws, singled in another eighth-inning run to complete a 3-for-5, two-run night.
Cloaked in black and gold and represented by a swashbuckler and a skull-and-crossbones, left-hander J.A. Happ has found his aggression since joining the postseason-contending Pirates.
Through his first 22 appearances, 21 with the Mariners and a maiden voyage with the Pirates, Happ was 4-7 with a 4.78 ERA. But in his last three starts, Happ has given up one run in 17 1/3 innings and the Pirates have won all three. Happ wants to carry this form into Saturday night's start against the Rockies at PNC Park.
Cervelli was acquired from the Yankees in the offseason to replace four-time All-Star Russell Martin, who signed as a free agent with Toronto. Cervelli hasn't disappointed, entering Friday batting a career-high .306, second only to Buster Posey among regular Major League catchers. Cervelli and Stewart were hitting a combined .303, a Major League best for catchers.
MIAMI -- Marlins Park can be a frustrating place for even the most powerful hitters. The lime-green wall in center field is 418 feet away, but it often feels like a mile. All week, the Pirates watched balls get swallowed up by the vast outfield expanse.
But Pedro Alvarez made the park's sizable dimensions look small in the fourth inning Thursday night, blasting a 443-foot solo shot off Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino that wound up being the deciding run in the Pirates' 2-1 win.
MIAMI -- Take a look into the Pirates' dugout moments before first pitch every night. You never know what you might see.
It could be Andrew McCutchen pretending to row a boat, with his bat as the oar. You might find Josh Harrison doing the limbo under his bat. Either way, odds are you will find McCutchen and Harrison dancing in the middle of a crowd of teammates, some of them stomping their feet while others bang on empty gum buckets.
MIAMI -- Pirates ace Gerrit Cole made an overdue return to the win column Thursday night at Marlins Park, throwing 7 1/3 innings and picking up his 15th victory as the Bucs beat the Marlins, 2-1.
It was Cole's first win, and his longest start, since July 26. He had been 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA in August, albeit with a pair of quality starts, before holding the Marlins to one run on five hits, while striking out four.
MIAMI -- Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli caught a 94-mph fastball from Gerrit Cole, held it in his gloved left hand and waited. The strike call never came, but within a few moments, Cervelli had been ejected.
Home-plate umpire Alan Porter tossed Cervelli during the third inning of the Pirates' 2-1 win over the Marlins on Thursday night at Marlins Park. According to Cervelli, Porter said something in "not the right tone," and threatened to eject Cervelli if he turned around.
MIAMI -- It may be hard to believe, but Andrew McCutchen -- with a little help from his friends -- has found a way to take his offensive game to another level this season.
McCutchen's 20th home run of the season, a three-run laser into the left-field seats at Marlins Park, capped a six-run second inning in the Pirates' 7-2 win on Wednesday night. The 414-foot blast brought his RBI total to four on the night and 85 for the season.
MIAMI -- It had been a frustrating month for Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke. Even as Pittsburgh kept winning, Locke often struggled. He hadn't finished the sixth inning in six starts. His ERA during that stretch started with a six. But he put that behind him Wednesday night at Marlins Park, firing seven strong innings as the Pirates cruised to a 7-2 win over the Marlins.
Andrew McCutchen crushed a three-run homer as part of a six-run second inning, giving Locke plenty of room to work with. And Locke took full advantage of the early run support, getting better as the night wore on in his best start of the second half.
MIAMI -- With Sept. 1 less than a week away, the Pirates are mulling over their September callup options. At the same time, they must consider the ramifications every move might have on their potential postseason roster.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle spoke with general manager Neal Huntington about their upcoming roster moves on Monday, and he was scheduled to do so again on Wednesday. The quick takeaway: Don't expect anything too surprising.
MIAMI -- Shortstop Cole Tucker, the Pirates' top 2014 Draft pick, could be sidelined up to a year after undergoing surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Tucker, 19, is expected to miss approximately 10-12 months. That recovery timeline would keep him off the field for the rest of this season and potentially most of next year's Minor League season as well.
Andrew McCutchen clearly is one of the greatest in today's MLB. When compared to two historic Pittsburgh Pirates, he also is already one of the franchise's all-time greats.
McCutchen played in his 1,000th career game on Monday night -- and marked it in style with a two-run double that started the Bucs toward a 5-2 victory over the Marlins in Miami -- a nice round number that offers a convenient opportunity to compare.
MIAMI -- Lefty Brad Hand threw a career-high eight-plus innings, silencing the Pirates' lineup and leading the Marlins to a 5-2 win over the National League Wild Card leaders Tuesday night at Marlins Park.
Hand scattered nine hits but held Pittsburgh to two runs, striking out five without walking a batter. He left the game in the ninth after serving up two singles to start the inning, which set up the Pirates to load the bases and make it a three-run game. But Marlins closer A.J. Ramos got Sean Rodriguez to fly out to center field, stranding a pair of runners to record his 22nd save.
MIAMI -- The Pirates had an unusual time trying to contain the Marlins' aggressive running game Tuesday night.
Pittsburgh's corner outfielders each gunned down a runner at third base, making Miami pay for its attempts to take an extra base. But the Bucs' battery struggled to slow down Marlins speedster Dee Gordon, who had four of Miami's five steals in a 5-2 loss at Marlins Park.
MIAMI -- The last time the Pirates came to Marlins Park, Gregory Polanco announced his presence with authority. He swatted five hits in one night, ripped a game-winning homer and tortured Miami's pitching all series. It was perhaps the best Polanco has looked at the big league level -- until now, that is.
Polanco started hitting in early July and hasn't stopped since. He kept raking Monday night in his return to Marlins Park, piling up four hard hits in the Pirates' 5-2 win.
MIAMI -- Led by another strong start from left-hander J.A. Happ and Gregory Polanco's four-hit night, the Pirates continued their dominance against the National League East with a 5-2 win over the Marlins on Monday.
Happ fired six scoreless innings, allowing only four hits and a walk while striking out six. Since his disappointing Pirates debut on Aug. 4, Happ has pitched 17 1/3 innings over three starts and permitted only one run.
MIAMI -- Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero is known for his blazing fastball, a pitch that often clocks in faster than 100 mph. But he has quietly, and quite successfully, diversified his arsenal recently.
Caminero has essentially improved upon his signature pitch, a four-seam fastball, by making frequent use of a sinker. He began throwing the pitch on Aug. 1, according to PITCHf/x data, and it's been his go-to offering ever since.
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has an expression for the "gamer" attitude his players use to overcome their own rash of mistakes to post the Majors' third best record: "So what? Now what?"
The Pirates played their ultimate "So what? Now what?" game Sunday night, downing the Giants, 5-2, despite a series of physical and mental errors in the middle innings. After two fielding errors by first baseman Pedro Alvarez and a throwing error by second baseman Neil Walker gifted the Giants with two runs to trim the Bucs' lead to 3-2, homers by Andrew McCutchen in the sixth and Alvarez in the seventh restored order.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PITTSBURGH -- Early on this season, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle presented Jung Ho Kang with a number of lineup cards, each to commemorate a Major League "first" -- first at-bat, home run, homer at home, hit-by-pitch and so on.
Kang would seem entitled to Hurdle's sheet from the Pirates' 3-2 win over the Giants at PNC Park, a memento of his first multi-homer game in the big leagues. But that might not be necessary anymore.
PITTSBURGH -- Seven innings after robbing Brandon Crawford of a home run, Starling Marte robbed Crawford's entire team of a possible win. Marte's homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Saturday gave the Pirates a 3-2 walk-off win over the stunned Giants at PNC Park.
Marte drilled the first pitch to him by George Kontos for his 15th homer of the season to keep the game's theme to its conclusion. The Bucs' first two runs had been the product of Jung Ho Kang's first career two-homer game.
John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PITTSBURGH -- Starling Marte may have come up with an early wedding present for Gerrit Cole's upcoming marriage to Amy Crawford: robbing the Pirates pitcher's future brother-in-law of a home run.
The Giants' Brandon Crawford hit a towering fly ball to left field in the second inning of Saturday's game at PNC Park -- towering enough for Marte to drift back and make a leaping catch at the 383-foot sign. Seven innings later, Marte went over that wall considerably to the right of that sign for the walk-off homer that gave the Bucs a 3-2 win over the Giants.