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Andrew McCutchen homers, drives in winner as Pirates dump Reds

CINCINNATI -- Andrew McCutchen hit the game's third pitch over the wall in right field, a drive pushed by the same wind that would fling garbage bags, paper wrappers and hanging fastballs everywhere all afternoon long.

Not much fun, not even for the winning Pirates.

McCutchen opened with a homer against slow-starting Edinson Volquez, then singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning Sunday, rallying Pittsburgh to a 7-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds in a game as hard to pin down as all that garbage flying through the air.

"It definitely gave me some gray hairs," said McCutchen, who had three hits and a pair of walks.

No one ever got comfortable in this one.

McCutchen and Jose Tabata started it with back-to-back homers -- only the third time that's happened in Pirates history. McCutchen singled off Logan Ondrusek (2-1) for the go-ahead run, which barely held up.

Closer Joel Hanrahan came on with two aboard in the eighth and got Scott Rolen to line into a double play, started by shortstop Ronny Cedeno's diving catch. The Reds then loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Hanrahan got Drew Stubbs to fly out, securing his fifth save in five chances.

"That might have been the most interesting five outs I've ever been part of on the field," Hanrahan said.

Chris Resop (1-0) escaped yet another Reds threat in the seventh, helping the Pirates win for only the second time in their last seven games.

The defending NL Central champions came away with a mystifying problem at the top of their rotation: Volquez just can't seem to get started. In his four games this season, the former All-Star has an ERA of 29.25 in the opening inning. It's 1.93 the rest of the way.

Volquez got an extra day of rest for the game because of a stiff neck, and thought that was a factor in his slow start.

"A little," he said. "I was afraid to throw my fastball in the first inning. After that, I just let it go."

McCutchen homered to right on his third pitch of the game, the outfielder's seventh leadoff homer. The crowd of 32,105 was still murmuring when Tabata homered on the next pitch as well, earning a place in Pirates history.

The only other Pirate duos to lead off a game with homers: Pete Coscarart and Jim Russell against Boston in 1945, and Omar Moreno and Johnny Ray against Houston in 1982.

It was a satisfying game all-around for McCutchen, who came in batting .204.

"It was just a matter of time, that's all," said McCutchen, who raised his average to .250. "All I could do was laugh about it because I knew that's not me. Now it's starting to turn around."

Volquez threw hard -- his fastball hit 96 mph -- but had poor control. After the homers, he walked Lyle Overbay on four pitches. Neil Walker doubled off the wall in center, and Volquez walked Garrett Jones and Chris Snyder to force in a run. Cedeno hit a sacrifice fly to warning track in center for a 4-0 lead.

On opening day, Volquez also opened the game by giving up back-to-back homers to Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks and Carlos Gomez. The Reds rallied in the ninth for a 7-6 win.

This time, they came up one hit short.

Jonny Gomes led off the second with a solo shot off Jeff Karstens, his third homer in his last five at-bats. Miguel Cairo also had a solo shot off Karstens, who made his first start of the season. Jay Bruce had an RBI single and a solo homer that tied it 6-all in the seventh inning.

McCutchen put the Pirates ahead to stay with his third hit of the game. He also walked twice in five plate appearances.

Game notes
Karstens lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and five runs. He matched his career high with six strikeouts. ... It was Ondrusek's first career loss. He'd won his first seven decisions. ... In first innings this season, Volquez has thrown 30, 44, 21 and 33 pitches. ... The last pitcher to give up back-to-back opening homers twice in a season? Kansas City's Chad Durbin in 2000, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... RH Homer Bailey made his first rehab start at Triple-A Louisville and threw 62 pitches in five scoreless innings, allowing two hits. ... 2B Brandon Phillips was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a sore groin. He took infield practice.