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Pirates 6, Reds 5

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Big hits have been hard to come by early in the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In fact, hits in general have been scarce.

However, the Pirates broke out with 12 hits on Friday night and Andrew McCutchen provided the biggest one as his leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh inning snapped a tie and propelled Pittsburgh to a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park.

The Pirates entered the game the worst batting average in the major leagues at .153 and had averaged just 2.3 runs a game in their first nine games.

McCutchen's game-winning blast came after Cincinnati had tied the game in the top of the seventh on Brandon Phillips' second home run of the game, a two-run shot to center off Tony Watson (1-0).

The first four batters in Pittsburgh's lineup -- Starling Marte, Neil Walker, McCutchen and Garrett Jones -- had two hits each as the Pirates had a total of 12. They entered the game with a .153 batting average, worst in the major leagues, and had scored just 21 runs in their first nine games.

McCutchen finished with three RBIs. Marte extended his streak of multi-hit games to six, going 12-for-24. He has a hit in the first inning in each of those six games.

Phillips struck out to end the game with runners on first and second as Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his fourth save in as many opportunities.

A.J. Burnett went six innings and allowed three runs on six hits. He struck out eight and walked three.

Cincinnati starter Mike Leake is now winless in eight career starts at PNC Park, more than any visiting pitcher in the 12-year-old facility's history, as he did not factor in the decision. He gave up five runs on 10 hits in six innings with two walks and two strikeouts.

Slumping Pirates catcher Russell Martin drove home the game's first run when his two-out single to center scored Marte, who led off with a single and stole second base. Martin came into the game with a .043 batting average after being signed to a two-year, $17-million contract as a free agent last November.

Phillips' leadoff home run to dead center field off Burnett in the top of the second inning drew Cincinnati into a 1-1 tie but the Pirates answered in the bottom half with consecutive two-run singles by Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen with one out off Reds starter Mike Leake.

Travis Snider and Clint Barmes started the inning for the Pirates with consecutive singles and Burnett had a sacrifice bunt before Marte was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Walker.

The Reds got a run in the fourth when Devin Mesoraco's ground out scored Jay Bruce, who hit a leadoff single.

When Pedro Alvarez singled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, it gave every player in the Pirates' lineup except Burnett a hit.

NOTES: Pittsburgh recalled right-handed relief pitcher Bryan Morris from Class AAA Indianapolis before the game and designated righty reliever Chris Leroux for assignment. Leroux allowed three runs and four hits in three innings during his two relief appearances this season for a 6.75 ERA. He also walked six and struck out three. Leroux can opt for free agency if he clears waivers. Morris pitched three scoreless and hitless innings in two relief appearances with Indianapolis. ... Slumping Cincinnati 3B Todd Frazier and C Ryan Hanigan were both out of the starting lineup. Frazier entered the game hitless in his last 11 at-bats while Hanigan was hitting just .043 with one hit in his first 23 at-bats. Jack Hannahan started at third base and Mesoraco started behind the plate. ... Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto (1-0, 2.77) will face Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke (0-1, 6.00) on Saturday night in the middle game of the three-game series.
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