PITTSBURGH (AP) Josh Harrison watched his long drive hit off the wall in right-center field leading off the bottom of the ninth of a tie game against Milwaukee on Tuesday night and one thought kept running through his head: keep going.
So the Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman did, racing around second and diving into third before strolling home when the relay from Milwaukee second baseman Scooter Gennett bounded by the bag and out of play as the Pirates escaped with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.
''I saw (Milwaukee center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis) jump for the wall, and from there I never broke stride,'' Harrison said. ''I was going to make (Gennett) make a perfect relay.''
Gennett didn't, and Harrison's Little League homer off Tyler Thornburg (3-4) allowed the Pirates to start a crucial stretch against National League also-rans with a victory despite a second straight blown save by All-Star closer Mark Melancon (1-1) and a scary moment in the second inning when rookie pitcher Jameson Taillon took a line drive to the head.
Taillon, making his return from a stay on the disabled list to deal with right shoulder fatigue, was pitching to Hernan Perez with one out in the second when Perez sent a shot right back to Taillon that hit the 24-year-old in the back of the head and rolled out into left field. Taillon lay on the ground for several minutes while being tended to by medical staff before being cleared to stay in the game.
''I saw it coming at me, turned from it and remember going down,'' Taillon said. ''I could feel it on my head a little bit, but I remained conscious. I saw where the play went. I answered all the questions they asked me. I wanted to get up quicker than I was able to. I remember it pretty clearly.''
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle admitted his thoughts went to Taillon's parents watching on television but decided to trust the recommendation of the medical staff that Taillon was OK to continue.
''This is one area that I'm not really comfortable with,'' he said. ''I have to trust our people. They do know what they're doing, how to follow protocol to test the player and the things to do.''
The near miss hardly seemed to faze Taillon, who allowed one run and five hits, striking out three without a walk before being removed after throwing 65 pitches.
''I felt like I dealt with it pretty well,'' Taillon said. ''I definitely had some adrenaline after. I thought some of my pitches were up afterwards. It's tough to control the emotions right after that. I was able to keep the team in the game.''
Chris Carter doubled leading off the fourth and scored on a groundout by Perez but otherwise Taillon kept the Brewers in check as he outpitched Junior Guerra, a fellow rookie who has been one of the bright spots for the struggling Brewers, who have dropped five of six.
Guerra's only wobble came in the first, when two walks and a single by Andrew McCutchen loaded the bases with one out. David Freese loped a soft single to right field and Francisco Cervelli's fly to left easily scored McCutchen to give Taillon an early lead. Guerra surrendered one more hit through six innings, walking three and striking out six.
Taillon was solid during his first month in the majors before the team shut him down briefly due to concerns about his workload. He was fresh in his first start in three weeks, working quickly and retiring the last nine batters he faced before turning things over to a bullpen that rounded into form following a rocky start.
The only hiccup lately has come from Melancon, who blew his third save of the season and second in three days. He issued a leadoff walk to Ryan Braun in the ninth and Jonathan Lucroy followed with a single. Melancon then struck out Carter and Nieuwenhuis before Perez's grounder to center tied the game.
Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco went 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored while showing no ill effects from a sore left hamstring that kept him sidelined since July 8.
Brewers: Chase Anderson (4-10, 5.44 ERA) will try to get a handle on his control issues on Wednesday night when he makes his second start of the season against the Pirates. Anderson has issued a career-high five walks in each of his last two starts, both losses to St. Louis.
Pirates: Jeff Locke (8-5, 5.26 ERA) will try to win his fourth straight decision on Wednesday night when he makes his 18th start of the season. Locke is 5-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 13 career starts against the Brewers.