The Pirates played with fire Saturday night, but it's the Reds who got singed.
Cincinnati had at least two runners on base in six innings but mustered only one run as the Pirates escaped with a 3-1 victory at PNC Park.
The Reds stranded 11 baserunners as Pirates pitchers were at their best working through jams. Coincidentally enough, the Reds lone score of the game came with the bases empty -- a solo home run by Zack Cozart.
Starling Marte drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning to continue his hot start to the season. With Travis Snider on second, Marte hit a line drive single to shallow center field, scoring Snider and giving the Pirates (5-6) a 2-1 lead.
Marte is hitting .341 with a .383 on-base percentage and is second on the team with five RBIs.
In the seventh, Jose Tabata added an insurance run with an RBI double to right-center field, scoring Pedro Alvarez from third.
Jeff Locke earned the win after allowing one earned run over five innings but was far from efficient.
He threw only 45 of his 87 pitches for strikes and allowed nine batters to reach base. But he was effective in keeping the ball out of the air -- mainly due to his ability to keep his pitches out of the upper half of the strike zone. Of the 15 outs Locke recorded, 11 came as a result of ground balls.
Locke allowed one earned run on four hits, walking four batters and striking out none. He stranded seven Reds baserunners.
Reds starter Johnny Cueto left the game with one out in the fifth inning after experiencing pain in his right triceps.
Up to that point, he had all but shut down the Pirates' offense, allowing one earned run on two hits over 42/3 innings. He walked one batter and struck out three.
With Cueto out of the game, the Pirates' offense gained some traction.
In similar fashion to Friday, Snider legged out an infield single to spark a Pirates rally -- the first of three singles in the inning.
It was the second time in as many games that the Pirates scored the winning run against Cincinnati's bullpen, an area of strength for the Reds (5-6) last season but an area of concern through the first two weeks of this one.
In the top half of the inning, Alvarez helped keep the score knotted, 1-1, with a spectacular defensive play. With runners on first and third and one out, Joey Votto ripped a line drive toward third base.
Alvarez leapt and with full extension, snagged the ball out of the air, preventing a sure RBI double.
After walking Todd Frazier, Locke got Jay Bruce to line out to shortstop to end the threat.
Garrett Jones helped the Pirates tie the score, 1-1, with an RBI double in the fourth inning.
With Andrew McCutchen on first after drawing a two-out walk, Jones slashed a low-flying line drive toward left-center field.
Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo might have had a play on McCutchen, but as he tried to slide and stop the ball, he got caught in the grass, slowing him down and allowing McCutchen to easily coast home.
Cozart broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with a solo home run, his third of the season.
Facing a 2-2 count, Cozart crushed a fastball up and over the plate -- a mistake from Locke -- and parked it five rows deep in the left field bleachers.
His homer was the second Reds' hit of the night, though Locke was far from crisp in the early going.
He walked at least one batter in the first three innings and allowed multiple baserunners in each of them.
Cueto, meanwhile, was efficient facing the minimum over the first three innings.
Locke escaped a jam in the first inning. He hit leadoff batter Choo, who advanced to second with no outs after Locke balked on a pickoff attempt.
After getting Cozart to ground out to third, Locke walked Votto to put runners on first and second with one out. But Locke got Frazier to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Game: Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds, PNC Park.
When: 1:35 p.m.
TV: Root Sports.mobilehome - pirates
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published April 14, 2013 4:00 AM