CINCINNATI -- Wednesday night's 13-inning marathon between the Reds and Pirates was indicative of how the National League Central's three-team race has gone this season: good pitching, solid defense and evenly matched teams that won't budge in the standings.
After four hours and 18 minutes, Brandon Phillips' seeing-eye single up the middle with the bases loaded in the 13th drove home Derrick Robinson with the winning run in the Reds' 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh before what remained of a crowd of 36,567 at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds (44-29) remained 2 1/2 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central standings. The third-place Pirates (42-30) dropped four games back.
"It's probably going to be this way all year," said Jay Bruce, whose ninth-inning heroics sent the game into extra innings.
The Pirates led 1-0 with one out in the ninth when Bruce hit a game-tying solo home run off Jason Grilli.
"I've had pretty good success against him," Grilli said. "You feel horrible because the bullpen has been working a lot and we had to go extras and work harder. You lose a tough ballgame in an important series."
It was Grilli's first blown save this season after 25 straight conversions and the Pirates' first loss this season when leading after eight innings.
"You never plan on losing, but those things are going to happen occasionally," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's the first time he hasn't been able to close, and it's June 19? That's pretty good."
In the 13th, Robinson reached on an infield single against Pirates right-hander Vin Mazzaro and advanced to third on Shin-Soo Choo's single. Joey Votto was intentionally walked to load the bases. Phillips' grounder up the middle snuck into center field for the game-winner.
"I haven't been myself lately," a bleary-eyed Phillips said. "It felt good to come through for the team. I'm trying to get back to my same approach and let the game come to me. I was glad to get that chance tonight."
Mazzaro (3-2) took the loss. Manny Parra (1-1) earned the victory for Cincinnati.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke appeared in line for his seventh victory after allowing just four hits through seven innings. But Cincinnati rallied for the win.
The Reds' scoreless streak had reached 17 1/3 innings when Bruce's homer on Grilli's first pitch to him sailed 417 feet to right field, tying the score 1-1.
"They threw Bruce one fastball too many," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Ironically, it was Bruce who drove in the Reds' last run: a solo home run in the eighth inning of Monday's series opener.
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo allowed just one unearned run (on his error) through seven innings. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out three.
Despite having thrown 101 pitches after six innings, Arroyo came back out for the seventh. Bruce picked him up with a leaping grab of Andrew McCutchen's drive near the top of the right-field wall.
"I don't think it was out," Bruce said. "It would've hit the top of the wall, I think."
Pittsburgh had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth but failed to score. The Pirates went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 14 runners on base.
"We both left a lot of runners (10) out there," Baker said. "They left more."
Locke retired eight in a row before Todd Frazier's double in the seventh. Frazier was left stranded at third extending Locke's scoreless innings streak to 14.
Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth, and Alfredo Simon pitched a scoreless ninth to keep it a one-run game and give Cincinnati a chance to rally.
The Reds had six base runners and three reached second base against Locke through three innings, but none scored.
Zack Cozart, attempting to score from first base on Ryan Hanigan's double, was thrown out at home on a relay throw from second baseman Neil Walker to end the inning.
Marte tripled with two out in the third, then scored the Pirates' first run when Russell Martin reached on an infield single that caromed off Arroyo's glove for an error. That would cap the scoring for Pittsburgh.
"It's about time we won one of these games," Baker said. "These games take a lot out of you when you win, too."
NOTES: Pittsburgh is 37-1 when leading after eight innings. ... Cincinnati, which leads the majors with 12 extra-inning games, has gone 5-7 in those contests. ... Robinson batted leadoff for the fifth time this season. Choo moved from first to second against the left-handed Locke. Choo was batting .169 against left-handers, while Robinson was hitting .302. ... Marte's triple in the third inning was his fifth this season, tied for third-most in the National League. ... Arroyo issued two walks in the fourth inning after having two walks combined in his previous 24 2/3 innings. ... Tuesday's shutout was the 12th this season logged by Pirates pitchers, the most in the majors. They needed only 71 games to do it, the fewest by a Pittsburgh staff since the 1906 team also had 12 in the first 71 games and the fewest in the majors since the Mets had 13 in their first 71 games of the 1988 season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.