Trade deadline acquisition Ivan Nova pitched seven solid innings in his Pirates debut, Starling Marte had a key two-run single, and the Pirates cruised to a 5-3 win over the Reds Saturday.
Marte doubled in the first and scored the first run of the game as Andrew McCutchen singled up the middle. Nova, acquired last week in a small trade with the Yankees designed to bolster the Bucs' rotation, gave up a homer to Brandon Phillips in the second, and, later in the inning, an RBI single by Tucker Barnhart.
The Bucs, though, got a bit of a gift in the third, as Homer Bailey hit John Jaso with the bases loaded and allowed an infield single by Francisco Cervelli that gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead.
In the fourth, Nova helped his own cause by leading off with a single. Josh Harrison followed with a single of his own, and after both runners moved up on a wild pitch, Marte knocked a Josh Smith slider up the middle to bring them home.
Nova, meanwhile, allowed a second homer to Phillips in the seventh, but otherwise held the Reds in check. He struck out five, walked none, and got swinging strikes with both his fastball (which was in the low to mid-90s and had what looked to me like good movement) and his curve.
Neftali Feliz got a key double play from Jung Ho Kang to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Tony Watson picked up his second save with a perfect ninth.
The Cardinals, Marlins and Mets all lost, too, which means that the Pirates are now just two games back of the second Wild Card.
David Freese, by the way, left the game due to elbow discomfort after being hit by a pitch, but his injury isn't currently considered serious.