Josh Harrison, Pirates assure Reds of losing season

PITTSBURGH -- Josh Harrison was born, raised and became a college star in Cincinnati.

But he said he didn't get any special satisfaction in helping beat the Reds on Saturday night.

"I'm more worried about trying to prove I belong in the big leagues," the Pittsburgh Pirates rookie third baseman said with a smile.

"I really wasn't a big Reds' fan growing up. I didn't have a favorite team. I was just a baseball fan."

Harrison had four hits to lead the Pirates to a 4-3 victory, assuring the Reds of a losing season a year after they won the NL Central.

Harrison finished a home run shy of the cycle and set a career high for hits as he had two singles, a double and a triple against his former hometown team.

The third baseman was the Big East Conference player of the year at the University of Cincinnati in 2008.

"I knew I had a chance at the cycle, but I also know the odds were against it because I'm not a big power hitter," Harrison said.

Harrison has hit only one home run in 186 at-bats, but has a .280 batting average while making a good impression on manager Clint Hurdle.

"He works hard. He stays prepared," Hurdle said.

"Tonight, the barrel (of the bat) was showing up so much more. You'd like to see him stretch the walks and the extra-base hit a totals a little bit more and extra-base hits are starting to come."

Harrison has drawn three walks, but has 16 extra-base hits.

In the midst of their 19th straight losing season, the Pirates improved to 71-87 and need one more win for their highest total since 2004.

Cincinnati fell to 76-82 with four games remaining. The Reds won their first division title in 15 years last season.

Neil Walker added three hits for Pittsburgh.

Brandon Phillips had two doubles among his three hits for Cincinnati and Joey Votto and Juan Francisco also doubled twice. Votto drove in two runs to become the first Reds player with back-to-back 100-RBI seasons since Dave Parker in 1985-86.

"You always want to see your players achieve goals, but the main thing is to win and we haven't won nearly enough this year," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said.

Brad Lincoln (2-3) went five innings for the win in his final start of the season, giving up two runs and six hits while walking four and striking out four. He bounced back from an awful outing against the Dodgers at Los Angeles last Sunday in which he allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings of a 15-1 loss.

Lincoln has a 4.72 ERA in 12 games, eight starts, this season after going 1-4 with a 6.66 ERA in 12 games, nine starts, as a rookie in 2010.

"I've learned to have faith in myself and be who I am and I've run with it," Lincoln said. "I just go out there and try to be the same guy."

Meanwhile, it wasn't a good finish for Travis Wood (6-5), who had his 17-inning scoreless streak snapped in the second inning. He gave up four runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

"I felt I threw some good pitches and they battled and fouled them out and forced me to make more hittable pitches," Wood said.

Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth, working around Phillips' leadoff single, for the third save of his nine-year career and first since April 15, 2009, when he was pitching for Colorado against the Cubs.

Grilli missed all last season after suffering a severe knee injury in spring training while with Cleveland.

Closer Joel Hanrahan was unavailable after throwing 31 pitches on Friday night.

"I can't say enough about getting back to the major leagues and actually getting a save," Grilli said.

"I have a wife and a family to take care of and this is all I know. My back was up against the wall last year and it didn't look but it was really a matter of survival for me. My mindset was that I was going to pitch in the big leagues again and I have."

Pittsburgh snapped a 1-1 tie and chased Wood during a three-run third inning.

Harrison led off with a triple that one-hopped the left-field fence and scored on Andrew McCutchen's sacrifice fly. Ryan Ludwick also hit a sacrifice fly before Jason Jaramillo capped the inning with a single that drove in Walker, who had doubled.

Votto hit an RBI double in the fourth to draw the Reds within 4-2 and Edgar Renteria's two-out RBI single in the eighth made it a one-run game.

Cincinnati opened the scoring in the first when Phillips led off with a double and scored on Votto's one-out double. Ronny Cedeno hit a sacrifice fly in the second for the Pirates to tie the game at 1-1.

Pittsburgh won for the third time in four games while Cincinnati lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Game notes
Pittsburgh finishes its home season Sunday when it tries to sweep the three-game series with RHP James McDonald (9-9, 4.28) facing Cincinnati LHP Dontrelle Willis (0-6, 5.04). McDonald has his last chance to finish the season with double-digit wins. The bullpen has blown five leads for him after the seventh inning. Willis, who has yet to win in 12 starts since being called up from Triple-A Louisville on July 10, missed his last turn in the rotation because of back spasms. ... X-rays of Reds INF Todd Frazier's left hand were negative after he was hit by a pitch from Hanrahan on Friday night. Frazier pinch hit in the sixth inning Saturday and struck out. ... Pittsburgh had its 17th sellout of the season, helped by a postgame concert by the Steve Miller Band. That is the most sellouts for the Pirates since they had 19 in 2001, the year PNC Park opened.