PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Pittsburgh Pirates are quickly establishing themselves as the kings of small ball in Major League Baseball.

In turn, they remain kings of the National League’s Central Division after a 1-0 victory against Cincinnati Tuesday night at PNC Park. Much like in Monday night’s 2-0 win, the Pirates grabbed a slim lead early on and pitching held strong to allow Joel Hanrahan to close out the game.

This time the Buccos (51-44) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Josh Harrison singled with one out and Neil Walker followed with a ground rule double to put men on second and third for Andrew McCutchen, who grounded out to short to score Harrison for a 1-0 lead.

That’s all Pirates starter James McDonald (6-4) needed to earn his sixth win of the season. McDonald pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven.

“I was pitching to contact more this game, going along smoothly,” McDonald said.

He was pulled for left-handed reliever Joe Beimel with the bases loaded and one out as Reds slugger Jay Bruce stepped to the plate. Beimel registered a dramatic strikeout in maybe the biggest at bat of the night, and Chris Resop came in to force Drew Stubbs in to a ground out to end the inning.

Resop stayed in to pitch the eighth and sent the heart of Cincinnati’s (47-50) order — Zack Cozart, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips — down in 1-2-3 fashion.

“It’s been awesome to watch and be a part of,” Resop said.

The Pirates received similar relief Monday night, as Charlie Morton was removed from the game after five innings because of two extensive rain delays. Tony Watson went 2 2/3 innings and Daniel McCutchen finished off the eighth with men on first and second, getting Miguel Cairo to foul out to catcher Mike McKenry to end the inning.

“The bullpen has been the unsung hero for this team this year,” McDonald said. “They’ve come in in a lot of big situations and got the job done. Those guys picked me up tonight.”

Hanrahan came in and earned his 27th save Monday, and he closed it out again Tuesday night for save No. 28, though not without some drama. Hanrahan put two runners on, but got Bruce to ground out to first base to finish it off.

“It was electric,” Hurdle said of the 26,058 fans in attendance that stood and exploded as the final out was recorded.

Chris Gates | Bucs Blog

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