On the same day the Pittsburgh Pirates designated the disappointing Wandy Rodriguez for assignment, they turned to the erratic Edinson Volquez as they looked for consecutive wins for the first time in almost two weeks.
Volquez was anything but inconsistent Thursday night against the Washington Nationals, going six innings and allowing only one run in Pittsburgh’s 3-1 victory at PNC Park.
Of course, the free-agent signee from this past offseason had help in delivering the Pirates’ 20th win in 46 games, specifically from surging utilityman Josh Harrison, who went 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI from the leadoff spot.
Beyond the box score, the Pittsburgh right fielder made a eye-popping diving catch in the gap and tagged up to go from first to second base on Neil Walker‘s flyout in the fifth inning, eventually scoring the go-ahead run on Andrew McCutchen‘s single.
McCutchen drove in two runs on the night, starting in the third when Nationals starter Blake Treinen hit him with a pitch with the bases loaded. Volquez, of all people, sparked the two-out rally with a walk, followed by Harrison’s single and a base on balls to Walker.
Washington (24-23) tied it at 1 in the fourth when Ian Desmond smacked a fat Volquez fastball over the center field wall. That was the best contact the Nats had against Volquez all night, as they could muster just three hits over the first six frames.
Jeanmar Gomez threw a scoreless seventh for the Pirates (20-26), but the usually reliable Tony Watson loaded the bases in the eighth on two walks and a single. However, Watson recovered to retire pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston and escape the inning.
The Bucs plated an additional run in the bottom of the eighth the help of – you guessed it – Harrison. Following Chris Stewart‘s bloop double, Harrison drove a pitch from Washington reliever Ross Detwiler to right for an RBI single.
A hit by former Pirate Nate McLouth against Mark Melancon made things mildly interesting in the ninth, as did a walk to Denard Span with two outs. But McCutchen put a flourish on the evening with a sliding catch on Anthony Rendon‘s sinking liner to center (GIF), giving Melancon reason to pump his fist in delight.