CINCINNATI (AP) — Andrew McCutchen hit another homer at Great American Ball Park, and Pittsburgh’s rebuilt bullpen was shaky but delivered on Friday night, holding on for a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Pirates got their first win of the season in Cincinnati — they’d been 0-4 — and finished July with a 17-9 record, the best in the National League.
McCutchen connected off Michael Lorenzen (3-6), and Jung Ho Kang had three doubles and drove in a run to support Jeff Locke (6-6). The left-hander lasted five innings and turned it over to the rebuilt bullpen.
Former Tigers closer Joakim Soria arrived a few hours before the game and slipped into his new role as setup man. He loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh — a pair of walks got him in trouble — but snagged Brayan Pena’s liner over his head to end the threat.
Mark Melancon needed two good defensive plays by left fielder Starling Marte in the ninth to keep his club-record save streak intact — now 31 in a row.
He gave up a single to Brandon Phillips and walked Joey Votto with one out. Todd Frazier singled to left, but Marte nailed Phillips at the plate. Marte then made a diving catch of Marlon Byrd’s liner, preserving Melancon’s 33rd save in 34 chances overall.
Before the game, Pittsburgh acquired left-handed starter J.A. Happ from Seattle on Friday as a stopgap with A.J. Burnett going on the disabled list. The Pirates also picked up infielder Michael Morse from Los Angeles, giving them a platoon option at first base to complement left-handed slugger Pedro Alvarez.
The next task: Finally win one in Cincinnati.
Locke gave up three runs in the second inning, highlighted by Ivan DeJesus Jr.’s two-run homer. McCutchen tied it 3-3 with his 15th homer off Lorenzen, who fell to 0-4 in his last six starts. McCutchen also homered during the All-Star Game at GABP on July 14 and has eight homers in his last 23 games there.
Jumbo Diaz relieved Lorenzen with the bases loaded in the sixth and threw a wild pitch that let in the go-ahead run. Marte followed with an RBI single for a 5-3 lead.
Byrd hit a solo homer off Jared Hughes in the sixth.