Cincinnati, OH – Scott Rolen's sacrifice fly in the sixth inning proved to be the difference, as the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds held off the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1, to complete a three-game sweep.
Wilson Valdez had an RBI for the Reds, who went 5-4 on a nine-game homestand.
Homer Bailey (11-9) gave up one run on six hits over seven innings to pick up the win. J.J. Hoover pitched a scoreless ninth to record his first save in the big leagues.
Gaby Sanchez knocked in the lone run for the Pirates, who have lost six straight and sit 2 1/2 games behind the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals for the NL's second wild card spot.
Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett (15-7) allowed two runs on five hits while striking out eight and walking two over six innings. He fell to 3-1 against the Reds this season.
"He pitched a very good ballgame," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Burnett. "He gave us the start we needed."
The Reds got on the board in the third inning. Ryan Hanigan and Brandon Phillips singled to put men on first and second with one out. After both runners moved up one base on a wild pitch, Valdez hit an RBI groundout.
But Pittsburgh responded with a run in the fourth to tie the game. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Sanchez hit three straight singles to plate a run. The Pirates went on to load the bases with two outs, but Burnett struck out swinging.
The Pirates failed to score in the sixth after Alex Presley hit a one-out triple. With Clint Barmes at the plate, Pittsburgh tried to pull of a suicide squeeze, but the ball sailed past Barmes' bat and Hanigan put the tag on a sliding Presley.
Cincinnati took advantage in the bottom half of the frame. Ryan Ludwick led off with a double to left, moved to third on a Jay Bruce fly ball and scored on Rolen's sacrifice fly to left field, making it a 2-1 contest.
Sam LeCure worked a perfect eighth and Hoover worked around a two-out single in the ninth to secure the win.
"Homer's been dealing his last four of five starts and not a whole bunch to show for it," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "So we wanted to hold the lead for him."
The Reds lead the season series by a 9-6 margin ... Burnett fell to 5-4 lifetime against Cincinnati ... Bailey improved to 7-2 in his career against the Pirates ... Pittsburgh went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.