CINCINNATI -- The National League wild-card-leading Pittsburgh Pirates checked into their hotel in Cincinnati around 2 a.m. Monday morning.
After a lackluster performance a few hours later, manager Clint Hurdle wasn't about to make excuses.
"I can't attribute the quick turnaround to it," he said. "We all knew what we were up against coming in. We prepared. There was energy in the dugout. We were ready to play. We didn't play well."
Anthony DeSclafani had a lot to do with that, tossing six shutout innings as the Cincinnati Reds took advantage of a season-high four Pittsburgh errors in a 3-1 victory in the opener of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
"DeSclafani had a good location fastball and slider," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It makes a difference to be able to put two good pitches in different zones. It is something he's learned and been able to put into practice during the game. He's incorporating his curveball. He's fearless and doesn't give in to anybody."
Last-place Cincinnati (57-79) improved to 10-4 against the Pirates, who began the day 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.
DeSclafani (8-10) finished with one run allowed in 7 1/3 innings, with no walks and six strikeouts.
"He had a good mix of pitches," Hurdle said. "Sped the left-handers up by pitching them tight early. Used the curveball, the slider to slow us down."
The bleary-eyed Pirates (81-55) arrived in Cincinnati around 1 a.m. EDT after their 7-1 victory in St. Louis, a game featured on "Sunday Night Baseball."
Pittsburgh then proceeded to commit four errors vs. the Reds, negating a solid performance by starter Jeff Locke, who gave up just one earned run.
Sean Rodriguez made his first start at shortstop for the Pirates and committed an error in each of the first two innings. He had made 98 career starts at shortstop.
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce collected his 1,000th hit in the second inning to put runners at first and second with no outs. Bruce is among just six Reds players who have reached 1,000 hits and 200 homers.
"Had tough at-bats against him all day," Locke said. "He's a really good hitter and I know he's been hitting the ball really well. There were a few innings for me that went really well."
While Hurdle downplayed the Pirates' late arrival, the Bucs appeared sluggish early in the game.
The Reds scored all of their runs in the second inning.
Shortstop Eugenio Suarez delivered an RBI single to drive home second baseman Brandon Phillips, who had reached on Rodriguez's second error, putting Cincinnati ahead 1-0.
After catcher Tucker Barnhart delivered a sacrifice fly to score Bruce, another run raced home when right fielder Gregory Polanco's throw skipped past catcher Chris Stewart for a throwing error, making the score 3-0.
Locke (7-10) allowed three runs (one earned) and four hits over five-plus innings. He walked two and struck out six.
"I thought he pitched a very aggressive ballgame," Hurdle said. "His third and fourth innings were as good as any innings he's pitched all year. His curveball command got better."
After scattering five hits with six strikeouts through the first six frames, DeSclafani ran into trouble in the seventh when pinch hitter Jaff Decker led off with a double.
Second baseman Neil Walker drove home Decker with a single to right, cutting the Pirates' deficit to 3-1 and ending DeSclafani's afternoon.
"It feels like September to me," DeSclafani said. "I was up with the Marlins last year, and it was different. My stats weren't good. I need to get used to it (pitching deep in September) for years down the road."
Pittsburgh brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the eighth against right-hander Jumbo Diaz. But with runners at first and second, third baseman Jung Ho Kang grounded into an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play.
Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the ninth for his 29th save.
"If we defend the ball better, who knows the outcome of the game?" Hurdle said.
NOTES: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa has rejoined the club and will be reinstated from the disabled list, where he has been since Aug. 23 with a lower back strain. ... Bucs RHP A.J. Burnett came through his Sunday bullpen session OK and will be activated to start Sept. 10 against Milwaukee. Burnett has been on the 15-day DL since July 31 with a flexor strain in his right elbow. ... Reds manager Bryan Price said CF Billy Hamilton will come off the disabled list and be in the lineup Tuesday. Hamilton made two rehab appearances at Double-A Pensacola while recovering from a sprained right shoulder. ... Reds C Devin Mesoraco, on the DL since May 25 with a hip impingement that required surgery, will start running in two weeks.