ST. LOUIS -- Josh Harrison loves everything about his utility role on the Pirates -- including his unofficial title as the team's jack of all trades.

Harrison can play almost anywhere on the diamond, a skill that makes him invaluable.

"I think it is pretty unique to play quite a few different positions," Harrison said. "I never know where they're going to use me."

Which is fine with Harrison, who is listed as a third baseman. He has also played shortstop and second base during his 77-game big league career. He spent time at five different positions in the Minors, including left field and right field.

That kind of versatility endears him to manager Clint Hurdle, who isn't afraid to place Harrison at any position or in any spot in the batting order.

"I just love to play, I don't care where," Harrison said.

The Cincinnati native has been particularly effective at the plate recently. He came off the bench Wednesday to contribute a pair of run-scoring hits in the seventh and ninth innings of a 12-3 loss at St. Louis. On Monday, in a rare start, he had a key hit in the Pirates' 9-3 win at Atlanta.

"It's always good when your guys can come in and they've got focus," Hurdle said.

Harrison was obtained from the Chicago Cubs on July 30, 2009, along with pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio in exchange for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. He spent all of 2010 with the Pirates' Double-A team in Altoona, Pa., and began the 2011 campaign at Triple-A Indianapolis. Harrison hit .321 the first two months of the season before he was called up to the big leagues on May 30.

The 24-year-old went 2-for-4 in his Major League debut, including a single off Mets knuckleballer R.A Dickey in his second at-bat.

Harrison appeared in 65 games last season, with one homer and 16 RBIs. He drove in a career-high three runs in a 7-0 win at St. Louis on Aug. 27, 2011. All three RBIs came off Chris Carpenter.

Harrison believes he has the tools to be an everyday player. But he is embracing his current role for the time being. His two-RBI effort on Wednesday speaks volumes.

"I'm always ready on the bench, and this was one of those days where we had to use the bench," he said. "I was happy to get to go in, help out, and contribute with some good ABs."

Harrison is 5-for-24 (.208) with four RBIs in 12 appearances this season.

McCutchen exits early with stomach flu

ST. LOUIS -- Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen left Thursday's game at St. Louis in the bottom of the fourth inning with a case of stomach flu.

McCutchen, who entered the game with a lifetime .377 batting average at Busch Stadium, was given the day off on Wednesday by manager Clint Hurdle. McCutchen was the only Pittsburgh player to start the first 23 games of the season.

Nate McLouth replaced McCutchen in the lineup on Thursday. McCutchen grounded out in his two trips to the plate.

McLouth still upset over Red Wings' loss

ST. LOUIS -- Outfielder Nate McLouth, who grew up in Michigan as a devoted Detroit Red Wings fan, has yet to shake off his team's loss to the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference quarterfinals last month.

McLouth was born in Muskegon and attended Whitehall High in the western half of the state. He kept a close eye on the series and is still upset over the Wings' loss in five games.

"I thought they were going to go places," McLouth said.

The Pirates went on a nine-game western swing in early April, which gave McLouth a chance to watch some of the games in the clubhouse before he took the field.

McLouth attended Wings games regularly at Joe Louis Arena while growing up, and he said Detroit tough-guy Bob Probert was one of his favorite players.

McLouth still checks out the NHL playoffs as much as possible, but he is not as fanatical about the postseason since the Wings were eliminated.

"I just wish they were still playing," he said. "It would make it a lot more fun."

McLouth, an All-Star in 2008, got his fifth start of the season on Wednesday, replacing Andrew McCutchen in center field. McLouth went 0-for-4 and carried a .148 average into play on Thursday. He entered in the fourth inning Thursday when McCutchen left with a stomach flu.

Worth noting

• The Pirates have 32 extra-base hits in their past nine games heading into play Thursday. That ties them with the Rockies for second in the Majors during that stretch, behind the Red Sox, who lead with 36.

• Outfielder Andrew McCutchen was back in the lineup on Thursday after manager Clint Hurdle gave him a day of rest Wednesday. McCutchen was the only Pittsburgh player to start the first 23 games of the season.

• Catcher Rod Barajas was ejected for only the third time in his 11-year career on Wednesday. Home-plate umpire Angel Campos tossed Barajas for arguing balls and strikes in the bottom of the second inning. It was Barajas' second ejection for arguing pitches.

"It's not like he's a guy looking for an argument," Hurdle said.