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 Friday night, with Andrew McCutchen providing the biggest one with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the seventh that 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.
"It's nice to get some hits and score some runs," McCutchen said. "This is the type of offense we expected to have coming into the season."
McCutchen's game-winning blast off J.J. Hoover (0-3) 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).
"You have to turn right back around and give them the lead after you fought hard to tie it up, but we still had two more chances to tie or win the game and we didn't get it done," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said.
The first four batters in Pittsburgh's lineup -- Starling Marte, Neil Walker, McCutchen and Garrett Jones -- had two hits each to provide most of the output.
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.
"This is what we're capable of doing," McCutchen said. "We have good hitters in our lineup. It's a matter of getting in that Michael Jordan-type mentality where you start thinking that you can outdo the next guy. That's how we were tonight. One guy started hitting then everyone else did. That's how it's always been in baseball."
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. Phillips declined to talk to the media after the game.
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.
"He did a really good job of keeping us in the game after those first two innings," Baker said. "He really settled down and did a good job. On the whole, it was a pretty good outing to get us through the sixth inning."
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.
"Marte is doing a great job for us at the top of the lineup," Hurdle said. "He's swinging at good pitches. The first good pitch he sees, he's being aggressive and putting the barrel (of the bat) on it."
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 Walker and McCutchen with one out off 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. Mesocarco also hit an RBI double in the sixth that drew Cincinnati within 5-3.
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.
"Hitting is contagious," McCutchen said. "Hopefully, it stays that way for more than one game."
NOTES: Pittsburgh recalled right-handed relief pitcher Bryan Morris from Triple-A 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 third baseman Todd Frazier and catcher 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.