PITTSBURGH — A.J. Burnett allowed just two hits over seven innings, Matt Hague delivered a two-run double and the Pittsburgh Pirates edged the Cincinnati Reds 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Burnett (4-2) escaped early trouble then cruised, giving up one unearned run while striking out three and walking two to win his third straight start. The right-hander retired 17 straight at one point, with only three balls reaching the outfield.
Joel Hanrahan worked out of a two-on, one-out jam for his 13th save as the Pirates clinched their first winning May in four years.
Johnny Cueto (5-3) gave up two runs over seven innings, walking four and striking out five while dropping his second straight decision.
The Reds managed just four hits as slugger Joey Votto took most of the night off.
The way Burnett was dealing, Votto's presence might not have mattered, though Burnett hardly looked dominant at the beginning of the night. Zack Cozart led off with a ground-rule double then moved to third when Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez misplayed a sacrifice bunt by Drew Stubbs.
Burnett quickly settled down, getting out of the jam when Jay Bruce lined to first, Brandon Phillips hit a sacrifice fly to left and Chris Heisey struck out.
Cincinnati wouldn't get another baserunner until Stubbs drew a two-out walk in the sixth and its only other hit came on a leadoff single by Heisey in the seventh.
Other than that, Burnett rolled. The former New York Yankee has spearheaded Pittsburgh's resurgent pitching staff that's kept the Pirates at .500 (25-25) despite an offense that ranks last in baseball in runs scored.
Save for a woeful outing against the Cardinals on May 2 — when he was lit up for 12 runs in 2 2-3 innings — Burnett's ERA this season is 1.53.
Burnett hasn't allowed an earned run in his last two starts and silenced one of the Nationals League's most prolific teams by relying heavily on his fastball.
Cueto, who began the night 11-3 against the Pirates in his career, was just as good. Pittsburgh only got one runner to third through the first five innings before finally breaking through with a two-out rally in the sixth.
Neil Walker walked and Garrett Jones followed with a single. Both scored when Hague — called up from Triple-A Indianapolis less than a week ago — drilled a cut fastball to the gap in right-center. Walker trotted home while Jones raced all the way around from first to give the Pirates the lead.
The bullpen made it stand up. Jason Grilli continued his superb spring by getting out of the eighth with little trouble.
Cincinnati made it interesting in the ninth. Heisey and Votto — who entered as a pinch-hitter after being held out of the lineup for the first time this season to get some rest — both singled with one out against Hanrahan.
The burly closer, however, struck out Miguel Cairo and Ryan Hanigan to boost the Pirates to 15-13 in May, their first winning record in the month since 2008.
NOTES: Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman, whose hotel room was burglarized during Tuesday's game, did not pitch and was not available for comment ... Pittsburgh rookie SS Jordy Mercer collected his first major league hit with a single off Cueto in the first ... The Reds begin a three-game series in Houston on Friday. Mike Leake (1-5, 5,47 ERA) faces Houston's J.A. Happ (4-4, 4.37) ... The Pirates start a six-game road trip on Friday in Milwaukee. Kevin Correia (1-5, 4.30) faces Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.73) in the opener.