PITTSBURGH - Neil Walker ended a long home run drought, James McDonald put together another strong start and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Saturday night.
Alex Presley also homered for Pittsburgh and Joel Hanrahan worked a perfect ninth for his fifth save in relief of McDonald (2-1), who gave up one run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
Cincinnati starter Mike Leake (0-4) remained winless but showed improvement after a rough opening month, allowing three runs and four hits in seven innings. He walked four and struck out four.
Walker hadn't homered since last September, but his two-run shot in the third gave McDonald an early cushion before Pittsburgh's bullpen staved off a late Cincinnati rally.
Joey Votto had two hits for the Reds, but Cincinnati was undone by some slick Pirates defense and solid work from McDonald.
The 27-year-old right-hander is beginning to harness his control, a problem that's plagued him early in his career and made it difficult for him to pitch deep into games.
He came in with 18 strikeouts combined in his last two starts - including a career-high 10 in a victory over Atlanta on Monday - and worked into the seventh inning both times, encouraging signs for a pitcher Pittsburgh considers a building block.
McDonald cruised through six innings before running into trouble in the seventh when Jay Bruce tripled with one out and Scott Rolen followed with a single.
Juan Cruz came on in relief and escaped further damage when Ryan Ludwick lined to center and Rolen was tagged out at second trying to advance.
The Reds drew within one in the eighth against Jason Grilli when Zack Cozart doubled home Devin Mesoraco. Grilli intentionally walked Votto, and Brandon Phillips struck out to end the threat.