CINCINNATI – Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle was ejected, but not dejected.
Scott Rolen tripled and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as the Cincinnati Reds won their fifth straight game, 5-4 over the Pirates.
Hurdle was tossed in the top of the second inning after both benches were warned following the second Pirates batter to be hit by a pitch in two nights.
Mike Leake plunked Josh Harrison with two outs, no one on base and the Reds leading 2-1. Harrison and Leake briefly exchange words, prompting plate umpire Brian Gorman to issue the warnings against further trouble.
Hurdle came out to discuss the decision and was ejected — for the third time this season — when the talk grew more heated.
"I was just taking a stand. I felt like we were getting a little bit of the short end of the stick there," Hurdle said.
"The wind's blowing out. You got to pitch in. For a warning at that point in time, we just disagreed. I didn't think it was the right call. I just wanted to see the game played on the field," he said.
The Reds have won 15 of 16 and opened a 5½-game lead over Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
It was 4-all when Rolen led off the eighth with a line drive off the right-center field wall, beating the relay with a headfirst slide into third base. Todd Frazier hit a chopper that was fielded by pitcher Jared Hughes (2-1) too late to get Rolen at the plate.
"I saw it got over his head," Rolen said. "I was running hard. I took a little gamble with no outs but it worked out."
Hughes considered trying to get Rolen.
"The moment I looked home, I didn't have a good grip. I didn't want to throw it over his (catcher Michael McKenry's) head. I took the out," Hughes said.
The next batter Dioner Navarro hit a tapper up the first base line. Hughes made a hard tag, but denied that it was out of frustration.
"I had to make sure I held onto the ball," Hughes said. "If he comes at you hard, you have to go at him hard. It was a frustrating way to lose though."
Hurdle was happy with his team's effort.
"We're not going to quit," he said. "We're going to show up. It's a fun time of the year. You don't like the loss and we have to do a little better. The effort is there. I've come to expect our guys to be professional. Their focus is where it needs to be."
Jonathan Broxton (1-0), acquired on Tuesday from Kansas City, pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his 25th save.
On Friday night, Chapman hit Pirates star Andrew McCutchen with two outs in the ninth.
The Reds capitalized on an error to take a 2-0 lead in the first. Zack Cozart led off with a single, Drew Stubbs bunted up the third-base line for a hit and both runners advanced on third baseman Pedro Alvarez's throwing error, setting up Rolen's two-out, two-run single.
McKenry led off Pittsburgh's second with his 11th homer of the season. The Pirates tied the game in the third on Alex Presley's leadoff triple and Neil Walker's sacrifice fly.
The Reds regained their two-run lead in the fourth on one-out singles by Stubbs and Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick's RBI line-drive double off the wall down the left-field line and Frazier's infield single.
Josh Harrison cut Cincinnati' lead to 4-3 with his third homer of the season in the fourth.
Pittsburgh got its own break to tie it in the sixth. Garrett Jones moved from second to third on Leake's wild pitch while striking out Alvarez, and Travis Snider hit a sacrifice fly.
Both starting pitchers lasted six innings and had seven strikeouts and a walk. Leake allowed six hits and four runs while James McDonald gave up seven hits and three earned runs.
McDonald was 5-1 against Cincinnati coming in. He lost his last two decisions but was better tonight.
"I thought James was very resilient. He battled. He gave us a chance to win the game. I was proud of his effort," Hurdle said.
NOTES: RHP Kevin Correia will start for the Pirates on Aug. 8 against Arizona in Pittsburgh, the team's concession to playing 20 games in 20 days, Hurdle said. Correia made his first relief appearance of the season on July 29 after 19 starts.