The Pirates wouldn't have been in the game without a brilliant performance from Kyle McPherson, who went six scoreless innings, striking out five and walking one. McPherson had to get out of a jam in the first, but he cruised after that. This was McPherson's last start of the season, and one wonders how the Pirates will use him next year. My guess is that the Pirates will be conservative with him, since he spent so much of this season on the minor-league disabled list and has precious little experience at AAA. I've felt very comfortable with him out there, though -- he rarely walks anyone and clearly has swing-and-miss stuff, which is a great combination. I'd love it if he won a rotation spot out of spring training. In any case, this was a terrific start for him.
The Pirates' offense, unfortunately, wasn't so terrific, and the game was still scoreless when McPherson and Mike Leake (who struck out three and walked three) left after six. The Pirates finally got on the board in the seventh. Clint Barmes singled and moved up to second on an error on a pickoff attempt, and Brock Holt moved him over. Chase d'Arnaud pinch-ran, and Alex Presley quickly made the sacrifice irrelevant by driving home d'Arnaud with a double to left-center.
If you thought the Pirates had much of a chance of beating the Reds with a tie game in the eighth, well, you're a more hopeful person than I. But the Pirates somehow did it. Kudos to Clint Hurdle for bringing in Joel Hanrahan in the ninth. (Hurdle will sometimes do that at home in a tie game, since he doesn't have to worry about a save situation.) Hanrahan walked two batters but escaped. Then the Reds brought in Jonathan Broxton in the bottom half. With a 2-2 count and one out in the ninth inning, McCutchen blasted off to right-center, and the Bucs ran out of the dugout in celebration. It must have felt like quite a weight off their backs to pull out a win like this, when it feels like every one- or two-run game has gone the other way recently.