Scott Rolen tripled and scored in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Cincinnati Reds over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-4, in the middle test of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Todd Frazier's RBI groundout brought home Rolen, who also knocked in a pair of runs, as the Reds earned their fifth straight win and their 15th victory in 16 games.
Jonathan Broxton (1-0) earned the win with a scoreless inning of relief while Aroldis Chapman stranded the tying run on second base in the ninth to secure his 25th save of the year.
Jared Hughes (2-1) allowed the deciding run for the Pirates, who have lost four of their last six to fall to 5 1/2 games behind the Reds for the top spot in the NL Central.
Michael McKenry and Josh Harrison each hit solo home runs in defeat.
"Both sides played tough. It was like a playoff atmosphere here," Reds manger Dusty Baker said.
The game entered the eighth inning tied at 4-4 after the Pirates had overcome a pair of two-run deficits, but Cincinnati was able to get back on top following Rolen's leadoff triple to deep center field that Andrew McCutchen could not get a handle on at the wall.
Frazier followed with a high chopper to second base to bring home the deciding run.
Chapman took the mound for the ninth and allowed a one-out single to Harrison, who advanced to second on a wild pitch during a Starling Marte strikeout.
But Chapman won a nine-pitch battle with Gaby Sanchez when the pinch-hitter swung through a 100 mph fastball to close out the game.
"We're not going to quit. We're going to keep showing up," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "This is a part of the season that is fun and challenging. You don't like the end result at the end of the night, but you know that just has to push you farther to do a little bit better."
After Pittsburgh stranded a man on second in the top of the first inning, the Reds got on the board in the bottom of the frame following Zack Cozart's leadoff single and a throwing error by third baseman Pedro Alvarez on a Drew Stubbs bunt that placed runners on second and third.
Pirates starter James McDonald almost escaped the jam by striking out Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick, but Rolen slapped a first-pitch single to right field, plating Cozart and Stubbs for a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates answered with a run in the second on McKenry's leadoff home run to left field before tying the game in the third when Alex Presley hit a triple high off the wall in right field and came home on Neil Walker's sacrifice fly to right.
Cincinnati, though, quickly regained the lead in the home half when Stubbs singled, advanced to second on a Bruce base hit and came home on Ludwick's line drive double off the wall in left.
Two batters later, Frazier's infield single scored Bruce to give the Reds a 4-2 advantage.
Pittsburgh got back within one in the fourth inning with Harrison's solo shot to left.
The Pirates then managed to tie the game again in the sixth thanks to a wild pitch by Reds starter Mike Leake on a strikeout by Alvarez that allowed Garrett Jones, who opened the inning with a double, to advance to third.
Alvarez took first on the play, which would have accounted for the second out of the inning, and Travis Snider followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Jones and knot the game, 4-4.
Hurdle was ejected in the second inning for arguing with umpire Brian Gorman after both benches were warned when Harrison was hit by a pitch...Cincinnati now leads the season series between the teams, 6-5...Leake allowed four runs on six hits and a walk with seven strikeouts over six innings...McDonald surrendered four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits through six full frames. He walked one and struck out seven.