Few of Pete Harnisch's career wins were more dramatic or emphatic than No. 99.
Harnisch held Pittsburgh hitless into the seventh inning, tied his career high with 12 strikeouts and wound up sharing a one-hitter as the Reds beat the Pirates, 1-0, last night in Cincinnati.
Sean Casey homered off Kris Benson (10-10) with one out in the eighth for the Reds, who moved back into first place in the NL Central by percentage points over Houston. The Astros lost to Milwaukee earlier in the day.
Harnisch (13-6) has pitched through shoulder pain for the last two months and has won nearly every time out. The right-hander hasn't lost since June 12, winning a career-best eight consecutive decisions in a dozen starts.
He's done it with a rotator cuff that has some fraying and may need surgery after the season.
"He's an inspiration to the other guys when he's not 100 percent physically sound and he goes out there and pitches the way he does," Manager Jack McKeon said.
He was so good last night that the Pirates had a hard time believing there was anything wrong with him.
"He'll have to show me some pictures or something before I'll believe his arm is hurting," Manager Gene Lamont said.
Harnisch struck out 12 for the sixth time in his career and didn't allow a hit until Mike Benjamin led off the seventh with a single up the middle. It was the only hit he allowed in eight innings, along with two walks.
Harnisch swiped his hand across the mound in frustration after Benjamin's grounder eluded his glove and bounced into center field. "I thought I had it, but my glove wasn't as low as I thought it was," Harnisch said. "I usually deflect those somewhere."
Harnisch left after the eighth inning, having thrown 118 pitches. Brian Giles drew a two-out walk off Scott Williamson in the ninth and stole second before Dale Sveum struck out on a pitch in the dirt to end it, giving Williamson his 17th save.
"It came down to one pitch," said Benson said, who gave up seven hits in eight innings and struck out eight. "I made one bad pitch and it cost us the game."
BRAVES 9, ROCKIES 7: Randall Simon hit a tiebreaking single in the 14th inning, and Atlanta went on to beat host Colorado to pull within a half-game of first-place New York in the NL East.
Jeff Barry drove in a career-high five runs -- with a two-run homer and a three-run double -- for Colorado.
"I was tired of being here and because we were in the 14th inning, I knew the team was tired, too," said Simon, back with the Braves after eight games at Class AAA Richmond. "So I said to myself, `It is up to me. If I want to go home, I have to get a base hit. And I did.' "
Braves starter John Smoltz allowed two runs and five hits in six innings and struck out eight. He hasn't won in nine starts since June 18, the longest winless streak of his major league career.
BREWERS 6, ASTROS 5: Kevin Barker, making his major league debut, hit a go-ahead single in the ninth inning as Milwaukee won in Houston, ending the Astros' three-game winning streak.
Barker, a first baseman, flied to center in the second, then singled in the third for his first major league hit. He went 2 for 5.
"I was just trying to kind of fit in and hustle and make it fun," said Barker, who spent three years in the minors before his promotion to the big leagues.
"I admit I was nervous. I haven't able to breathe since [batting practice]. This should help, but I'm sure I'll still be nervous. I'll be this way for at least a week."