"This bullpen this whole year has been incredibly competitive," Hughes said. "Just attacking the strike zone and forcing contact, I feel like that's what we're good at. And yeah, yesterday was a good example of that. Just really going out there and getting ahead in the count and minimizing pitches so we could go the rest of the game."
Even position player Harrison, pitching for the first time since he was about 14, managed to get the Rockies' final out after Mazzaro and Hughes each threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
But just as important as the arms who make up a bullpen with the second-lowest ERA in the National League (2.82) is the man calling the pitches: catcher Russell Martin.
"When we come in the game, Russ knows what we've got; he knows what to call, and I feel like that's really helped us stay consistent," Hughes said. "He's just an extremely good guy to have behind the plate."
In the eyes of Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, making the "Shark Tank" even more valuable to his club is their longevity. Hurdle said he could recall at least three games this year where the starter departed during the first inning or after the first was complete.
"Three times we were challenged dramatically; we won two of the three games," Hurdle said. "So for those guys, and it's been different guys -- [Bryan] Morris has done it, Mazarro's been involved, [Justin] Wilson was the guy one time. ... They take pride in what they do, and as soon as they saw Liriano struggling, they were ready. They were ready to post up and go."
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.