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Pirates get another strong start, beat Reds 3-2

Justin K. Aller

Vance Worley gave the Pirates their fifth straight solid start, and Neil Walker provided all the offense they would need on a first inning three-run home run, as the Bucs defeated the Reds 3-2.

Since returning to PNC Park for the homestand, Pirates starting pitchers have posted a 1.35 ERA, and allowed only 19 hits in 33.1 innings pitched.

"The starters are setting everything up," Clint Hurdle said after the Bucs won their fourth game in a row and closed within a half game of the second-place Cardinals. "Depth in the games, efficient with their pitches."

"[It] makes everything work better," Hurdle said of getting solid starting pitching. "If those starters keep grinding like they are, it's going to put us in a very good place."

Worley allowed only one earned run in 6.1 innings pitched. When he left the game, the Bucs held a 3-1 lead, but the Reds had men at first and second with Jay Bruce due up. Hurdle brought Justin Wilson in to face the left-hander and promptly struck him out. The inning should have ended with no further damage, but Ike Davis dropped a pop fly in right field that allowed Devin Mesoraco to score. With the tying run on third, Wilson struck out Skip Schumaker to extract the Pirates from the inning.

"He pitched today with as good of stuff as he's had all year," Hurdle said of Wilson. "You punch out the two left-handers you're in there to face. You get the pop up from Cozart, you get Schumaker after that."

Wilson figures to be a very important pitcher down the stretch, as the Pirates have had some problems bridging to their eighth and ninth inning guys this season.

"He's developing well," Hurdle continued. "He's figuring himself out better. Because the arm plays big and the stuff can be electric."

Tony Watson, pitching in his fourth game in a row, threw a clean eighth, and Mark Melancon picked up the save.

With the win, the Pirates are now 4-1 for the homestand and will go for the sweep tomorrow when Francisco Liriano takes on Johnny Cueto.