The Juice: Pirates find unlikely walk-off hero; Andrew Albers dazzles in big league debut

Mike Oz

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On a night that featured a few unlikely heroes, the Pittsburgh Pirates passed their magical hero baton to Josh Harrison, a utility infielder who has played in only 28 games this season and hit only one homer.

Harrison was sent up to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth of a 3-3 game against the Miami Marlins. Getting on his base was his mission, but circling them was even better for the Pirates, who improved to an MLB best 68-44 when Harrison sent a homer flying into right-center field. It was a walk-off win for the Pirates, another in a season of improbabilities.

''Those are little things that happen that make you go 'Yeah, something's going on,' " Pirates manger Clint Hurdle said. ''There's no doubt the more feel good you get, the more you feel good.''

It's worth reminding you: We're a week into August and the Pirates are 24 games over .500.

A dazzling debut: Andrew Albers made his major league debut Tuesday night for the Minnesota Twins and it was tremendous. He took a shutout into the ninth inning, allowing just four hits in 8 1/3 innings. Casey Fien got the final two outs as the Twins blanked the Royals 7-0.

If you've never heard Albers' name, it's OK. He's not a young stud of a prospect who shot up through the minor leagues. He's actually 27 and a former Padres draft pick who spent a year playing independent ball before getting another shot with the Twins.

When he finally got to the big leagues, it went better than Albers ever expected.

''It's hard to put into words, but it was special to go out and have that kind of performance in your debut,'' he said. ''Unfortunately, it's probably not going to get much better from there.''


Cards 5, Dodgers 1: The Dodgers' road winning streak is halted by the Cardinals, who get homers from Carlos Beltran and Matt Adams.

Brewers 3, Giants 1: Wily Peralta beats Matt Cain and the Giants, striking out six and giving up only one run.

Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2: The Jays abuse Felix Hernandez, knocking him out after six runs and nine hits in five innings.

Orioles 4, Padres 1: Bud Norris looks good again for his new team, as Adam Jones goes 4-for-4 with a homer.

D-backs 6, Rays 1: Wade Miley is sharp again for the D-backs, who get a pair of RBI doubles from Eric Chavez.

Red Sox 15, Astros 10: Fun fact: At one point, the Astros were ahead 5-0.

White Sox 3, Yankees 2: The White Sox win their second straight after losing 10 in a row. Sounds like the cure for a losing streak is A-Rod coming to town.

Mets 3, Rockies 2: Juan Lagares plates the go-ahead run with an eighth-inning single. Eric Young scores from second on the infield hit.

Rangers 8, Angels 3: The Rangers win again, creeping to within one game of the A's in the AL West, because ...

Reds 3, A's 1: Mat Latos disposes of the slumping A's, who have now lost five out of six.

Tigers 5, Indians 1: Justin Verlander looked like his old self: eight innings, seven Ks, four hits.

Braves 2, Nats 1: Braves win 12th straight in a game where the benches cleared.

Phillies 9, Cubs 8: Chase Utley has three hits and two RBIs to lead the Phillies.

''We've been in position to win so many of these games. We've got to have somebody come through for us and that was missing again. It's running rampant right now throughout the lineup. It's hit us as a club as a whole and it's been here for a while.''

— Giants manager Bruce Bochy after another disappointing loss.

Eric Young takes flight to celebrate after scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth inning for the Mets.

• Mike Trout, after hitting one Tuesday night, is the first MLB player with three career homers off Yu Darvish.

• Last Monday, the A's had a six-game lead over the Rangers. Now it's one game. (via @JaneMLB)

• Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway tied an MLB record with four passed balls in a single inning. He was catching knuckleballer Steven Wright. (Via Yahoo! Sports Minute)

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