Melancon had to deal with runners at first and third and gave a run on a sacrifice fly with one out, then closed out the Chicago Cubs as the Pirates claimed a 2-1 victory at Wrigley Field.
"I'm a big fan of the starting pitcher handing the ball to the closer," Hurdle said. "Our closer's really good."
Jung Ho Kang went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a solo home run in the victory.
Kang drove in Starling Marte in the seventh after Marte spoiled a no-hitter bid by Cubs starter Jon Lester with a one-out single that ultimately sent Lester (4-2) to the loss.
Pirates starter Gerrit Cole (4-3) was the winner and was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the ninth. He allowed three hits, struck out seven and walked none while giving up no runs.
"He got sharper as the game went on," Hurdle said. "The fastball command was plus-plus, he threw all his pitches for strikes. Two hits -- a scratch double the first batter of the game -- no walks, only three three-ball counts, seven punch outs, 13 guys retired on three pitches or less. He was sharp."
Melancon gave up one run in the ninth as Anthony Rizzo drove home Dexter Fowler with a one-out sacrifice fly to right. But he got Ben Zobrist on a ground out to end the game and collect his 11th save.
The Pirates (19-17) beat the Cubs (27-9) for the first time in six meetings.
Lester struck out nine and walked just two in a superb 6 1/3-inning outing. He lost a bid for a no-hitter with one out in the seventh and lost a potential shutout one out later.
"It was a well-pitched game on both sides," Lester said. "Obviously Cole probably didn't pitch the way he wanted to the last time he faced us and kind of came back with a little bit of vengeance there and really threw the ball well today."
Marte reached with a single to right on an 0-2 pitch -- Lester's 99th of the game -- and later scored on Kang's double to right-center.
Lester was pulled for right-hander Adam Warren, who walked the next two batters to load the bases. But Warren escaped without any damage as Cole grounded into an inning-ending fielder's choice to short.
Kang struck again in the ninth with a solo home run to left-center off Cubs reliever Hector Rondon. It was Kang's third homer of the season.
While Pittsburgh batters struggled against Lester, the Cubs had chances but didn't score in the early going against Cole.
Chicago threatened in the first as Fowler doubled to shallow center but got no further.
The Cubs got their second runner in scoring position in the fourth when Zobrist dropped a two-out double near the wall in right-center. But the threat fizzled when Addison Russell struck out.
The NL Central Division rivals will meet 13 more times this season.
NOTES: The Pirates activated LHP Cory Luebke (hamstring tightness) from the disabled list Sunday and sent RHP A.J. Schugel to Triple-A Indianapolis. Luebke had 18 strikeouts and a 2.92 ERA in 12 1/3 innings in seven appearances at Indianapolis. Schugel, 26, appeared in 11 games for the Pittsburgh. ... The Pirates send LHP Jonathon Niese (3-2, 5.63 ERA) against Braves RHP Williams Perez (1-0, 3.54 ERA) in Monday's opener of a four-game series and 10-game home stand at PNC Park. ... RHP Jake Arrieta's Saturday victory also marked the Cubs' 21st win in a row, extending a franchise record. ... Chicago has outscored opponents by 110 runs entering Sunday, the best run differential in the major leagues. ... The Cubs have an off day in Chicago on Monday before traveling north to Milwaukee for a three-game series. RHP Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 3.03 ERA) faces Brewers RHP Chase Anderson (1-5, 6.11 ERA) in Tuesday's series opener at Miller Park. ... The Cubs host the Pirates again on June 17-19.