NEW YORK – 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 first single-admission twinbill at Yankee Stadium since 2004.
The Pirates had lost all eight games at 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.
Solarte made a throwing error, then Brian Roberts dropped a throw from Solarte on a force attempt to put runners at the corners. Stewart had an RBI single but Jose Tabata slowed coming around second with a leg injury and was tagged out trotting into third to end the inning.
The Pirates were worse in the bottom half, allowing New York to score twice with two outs. Travis Snider let John Ryan Murphy’s single skitter through his legs in right field for a run. Snider had replaced Tabata in right field to start the inning. The Pirates said Tabata had tightness in his right hamstring.
Brendan Ryan laid down a perfect squeeze to make it 2-1 and went to second on Cole’s throwing error. Gardner walked and Cole balked the runners to second and third, but Roberts popped out to second base.
Harrison doubled to left with two outs in the fifth but slipped about halfway to third base and was tagged out in a rundown before Snider could cross home plate.
“I tried to stay in it as long as I could,” Harrison said.
Harrison redeemed himself in the seventh with a drive to left off Alfredo Aceves (0-2).
“He can surprise you,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Harrison, usually a bench player. “He does things with intent all the time.”
In the opener, Brian McCann had an RBI single in the first as New York scored all its runs in the first two innings on five hits off Charlie Morton (0-6). After Gardner’s RBI double in the second, Morton allowed just one baserunner through seven innings.
Hiroki Kuroda (3-3) yielded three runs and five hits in six innings for his first win since April 12 against Boston.
“As a pitcher, the win is always a good thing,” Kuroda said through a translator. “Even though you may not have perfect stuff, to get the win is very encouraging.”
David Robertson, the fourth Yankees reliever, got four outs for his eighth save.
Notes: Yankees RF Carlos Beltran had a second cortisone shot to try to ease the discomfort in his right elbow from a bone spur. He will get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday. … LHP CC Sabathia (right knee) will see a doctor today to make a plan. Girardi said Sabathia will be out longer than 15 days, for sure. … The Pirates’ streak of the leadoff batter reaching in eight straight games ended when Snider struck out looking.