CINCINNATI -- Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run home run and A.J. Burnett allowed just one run through eight innings, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday in the opener of an important three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Pittsburgh (92-68) needs to win one of the final two games in the series to earn home-field advantage for Tuesday's National League Wild Card game against the Reds.
Todd Frazier hit a solo home run for Cincinnati (90-70), which has dropped three straight.
Burnett (10-11) allowed one run on five hits. He walked one and struck six over 99 pitches.
Reds starter Homer Bailey (11-12) allowed four earned runs on five hits and walked four in five innings. He lost to the Pirates for the fourth consecutive time since no-hitting them at PNC Park on Sept. 28 of last season.
The Pirates had only six hits on Friday, and five were from Marlon Byrd and Alvarez, who keyed a big sixth inning.
Byrd led off that inning with a double high off the left-center field wall, narrowly missing a home run. Video replay confirmed it was not a homer.
No replay was required for Alvarez's two-run homer moments later, a 443-foot blast that put the Pirates ahead 4-1.
Byrd went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
Jason Grilli allowed one hit in the ninth and earned his 33rd save.
Bailey got ahead of Pirates hitters early in the game, but struggled to put them away.
In the third, Bailey hit Starling Marte and walked Andrew McCutchen after getting ahead 0-2. He then walked Justin Morneau to load the bases with one out. Byrd lined a single to left, driving in two runs and putting Pittsburgh ahead 2-0.
Marte's diving grab of Joey Votto's line drive ended the third, extending the Reds' scoreless streak to 16 innings.
But Frazier ended the skid with a line-drive home run off the left-field foul pole with two outs in the fourth, making the 2-1.
NOTES: Reds GM Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Friday the team hadn't decided whether to add rookie speedster Billy Hamilton to the postseason roster. "We haven't finalized that yet," Jocketty said. "We really haven't. We probably won't talk about that until Sunday or Monday." Hamilton is 13 of 14 on stolen base attempts since being promoted from Triple-A on Sept. 2. ... If nothing is at stake in Sunday's regular-season finale, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he'll replace scheduled starter RHP Gerrit Cole and use him in Tuesday's National League Wild Card game as a fail-safe behind likely starter Francisco Liriano. ... Bailey entered Friday's game four strikeouts shy of becoming the 11th pitcher in Reds franchise history dating to 1882 to record 200 strikeouts in a season. ... Reds LF Ryan Ludwick batted second for the first time since 2010 when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.