James McDonald tossed eight scoreless innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates knocked off the Cincinnati Reds, 4-1, in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park.
McDonald (4-2) allowed just five hits and a walk while fanning five to pick up the victory. Tony Watson allowed a run in the ninth, but Joel Hanrahan came on to get the final out to nail down his 12th save of the season.
"Throwing strike one and strike two makes pitching a lot easier," McDonald said. "I just tried to go out there and be aggressive and get ahead of hitters."
Pedro Alvarez went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and two runs scored, while Neil Walker, Garrett Jones and Rod Barajas had an RBI apiece for Pittsburgh, which won for the fourth consecutive time.
Bronson Arroyo (2-3) allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out one hitter over just four innings.
"Bronson had a rough day today," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He didn't have a real out pitch today. Nothing was really working or sharp. We still had some action, but we just didn't come though at the right time."
Chris Heisey knocked in the only run of the day for the Reds, who had taken two of three from the Colorado Rockies over the weekend.
The Pirates wasted no time taking the lead, plating a pair of runs in their first at-bat. Walker ripped a one-out single and came around to score on a double by Alvarez. Jones followed with an RBI single to right for a 2-0 advantage.
The lead was extended to 3-0 in the second when McDonald reached on a fielder's choice with one out and scored from first on a double into right by Walker.
Cincinnati threatened in the third when Ryan Hanigan clubbed a double to start the inning and Arroyo walked, but McDonald battled back to retire the next three hitters to keep the Reds off the board.
Alvarez began the home half of the third with a double and came around to score on a base hit back up the middle by Barajas to make it a 4-0 game.
Miguel Cairo and Hanigan stroked back-to-back singles in the fifth, but again the Reds were unable to score as McDonald got pinch-hitter Mike Costanzo to pop out before fanning Drew Stubbs and inducing an inning-ending groundout from Wilson Valdez.
Joey Votto walked to start the Reds ninth and moved to second on defensive indifference before scoring on a base hit into right by Heisey to make it 4-1, but Hanrahan got Cairo to fly out to center to end the game.
Prior to Monday's game, the Pirates placed pitcher Juan Cruz on the restricted list and selected the contract of pitcher Doug Slaten from Triple-A Indianapolis...The Pirates improved to 16-8 when scoring first this season...Pittsburgh finished 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven, while Cincinnati was 1-for-8 with men in scoring position and left six.