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By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
For the second game in as many days, the Pittsburgh Pirates got an outstanding performance from their starting pitcher and a series of timely hits as they completed a two game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds with a 5-3 victory this afternoon at Great American Ballpark.
James McDonald had the difficult task of following up the shutdown performance from Charlie Morton last night, and he was certainly up to the challenge.  McDonald gave up only one run on seven hits through 6.2 innings, and he held the high-powered Reds’ offense in check throughout the afternoon.  His only blemish on the day came in the second inning, giving up a solo homerun to Jay Bruce.  That would be the only run charged to him on the day.
The Pirates’ offense was limited until the fifth inning.  With two no outs and no runners on base, Andrew McCutchen hammered a double, and would score as the next batter, Xavier Paul, slapped an RBI single to shallow right center.  After Garrett Jones drew a walk, Neil Walker crushed a double to deep center, scoring Paul and Jones.  When all was said and done in the fifth, the Pirates had a 3-1 lead.
Ryan Doumit added to the lead in the sixth inning with a solo homerun to left field, and Cutch added another run to the board with an RBI double in the eighth, scoring Pedro Alvarez.
The Reds made things slightly more interesting over the course of the last two innings of the game.  Joey Votto singled to shallow center in the eighth, scoring Chris Heisey.  Bruce hit his second homerun of the game in the ninth inning, bringing the Reds within two runs.
That is as close as they would get, though, as Joel Hanrahan would record the final out of the game, earning his 12th save of the season.
So after losing six straight games, the Pirates have rebounded and won two straight games.  There are a couple of reasons why this series against the Reds was so significant.  First and foremost, it stops the losing streak.  Over the years, we, Pirates’ fans, are well aware of the one LONG losing streak that buries the team at some point throughout the season. 
Secondly, it was important to get back on the winning track on the road.  The Buccos are now 13-12 on the road, which is only four wins away from equaling last year’s total.  And it never hurts to take two from a divisional opponent, especially the division leader who has an offense that is perhaps tops in the league.
Charlie Morton and James McDonald were the story of this series against the Reds.  In the two games this week, the Buccos’ pitching staff gave up a total of three runs to a top-notch offensive powerhouse. 
The Pirates will hope to continue their winning ways this weekend as they welcome the Detroit Tigers to PNC Park for a three-game interleague series. 
Record Vs. Reds: 5-1
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 11-9
Record On The Road: 13-12
Overall Record: 20-23
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!