PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — The Pittsburgh Pirates climbed back to the .500 mark on the season, winning their fourth straight game Monday in a 4-1 victory against Cincinnati.

Pirates starter James McDonald pitched eight innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just five hits while striking out five and walking one.

“I think my mental approach is different,” McDonald said. He now boasts a 4-2 record with a 2.20 ERA.

Third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit two doubles on the afternoon, driving in one run for Pittsburgh (24-24). Second baseman Neil Walker also had two hits and drove in a run, while right fielder Garrett Jones and catcher Rod Barajas each drove in a run.

“I like the direction we’re headed,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I’m easy to please and hard to satisfy.”

Pittsburgh got off to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. After Walker singled he advanced to second on an Andrew McCutchen groundout and then to third on a throwing error by Reds starter Bronson Arroyo.

“I didn’t have a whole lot today,” Arroyo said. “But that being said I still felt like I could have put myself in position where I could have gotten out of those (early) innings and only given up one or two runs.”

Alvarez drove him in with a double, and Jones followed with a single, driving home Alvarez for a 2-0 advantage.

Walker singled in the second, driving home McDonald from second base for a 3-0 lead.

That lead grew to 4-0 in the third inning, as Barajas singled home Alvarez, who had hit his second double of the game to lead off the inning.

Cincinnati couldn’t manage a run until the ninth inning with McDonald on the bench. Chris Heisey hit a single off Pirates reliever Tony Watson, scoring Joey Votto.

Joel Hanrahan came in and recorded the final out in two pitches against Miguel Cairo.

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