Johnny Cueto worked 7 2/3 solid innings on the mound and the Cincinnati Reds held on for a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle test of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Cueto (6-3) allowed three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six to earn the victory. Sean Marshall got the final out in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman blew away the Bucs in the ninth to record his sixth save of the season.
Brandon Phillips went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, Ryan Ludwick ripped a three-run double and Ryan Hanigan added an RBI single for the Reds, who snapped a brief two-game skid.
Andrew McCutchen belted a three-run homer and Neil Walker chipped in with an RBI base hit for the Pirates, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
Brad Lincoln (3-1) allowed five runs on six hits and two walks to go with five strikeouts to take the loss.
Cincinnati opened the scoring in the second when Phillips led of the frame by blasting a fastball out over the plate from Lincoln over the wall in right- center field to give the Reds the early lead.
The Reds gave themselves some breathing room with four runs in the fourth to extend the lead to a comfortable 5-0 cushion. Joey Votto started the rally with a base hit. Phillips singled and Todd Frazier walked following a Jay Bruce strikeout to load the bases with one down. Ludwick launched a double into the left-center field gap to plate three and Hanigan followed with a single into right to score Ludwick.
"I looked for a pitch to drive, just like every other at-bat," Ludwick said. "It just worked out in that at-bat and I got it done."
Pittsburgh got back into the game with four runs in the eighth. Rod Barajas began the frame with a double and pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez followed with a base hit. Cueto recovered to retire the next two hitters, but allowed an RBI single to Walker, which pulled the Pirates within four and spelled the end of his night.
Logan Ondrusek came in and was greeted by McCutchen, who ripped an 0-1 fastball over the wall in right-center field to make it a one-run contest. Marshall then came in and got Jose Tabata to groundout, preserving the lead for the Reds.
Chapman got Matt Hague to ground out before fanning Casey McGehee and Barajas to end the game.
"We stayed around," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We hung around and we got close. At least we're playing good ball, we're battling. We dug ourselves a little bit bigger hole than we needed to tonight."
With two strikeouts in the ninth, Chapman has struck out eight of the last nine batters he has faced and has at least one strikeout in all 24 of his appearances this season...The Pirates have hit at least one home run in four consecutive games and have 12 long balls in their last eight games played in Cincinnati...The Reds went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded six, while Pittsburgh was 3-for-5 with men in scoring position and left three.