CINCINNATI -- The Pittsburgh Pirates lost eight of their first nine games against the Cincinnati Reds to begin this season. But taking two of three this weekend in Cincinnati was a good way for them to begin a stretch of 28 straight games against National League Central opponents.
Starling Marte went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and John Jaso's two-run double in the fourth inning gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a lead they never relinquished in a 5-2 victory over the Reds in the finale of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
Pittsburgh (63-68) took two of three in the series after losing eight of its first 10 games against the Reds to begin the season.
"We found a way to keep the Reds off the plate today," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had to roll up our sleeves. It was a hard day. Everybody rolled up their sleeves."
A.J. Schugel (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win and Felipe Rivero picked up his 16th save, but it wasn't easy.
Votto walked five times in the game to tie a Reds record, accomplished for the fourth time.
"He's a future Hall of Famer," said Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon, who allowed one earned run and threw 108 pitches in four innings but walked Votto three times. "He adjusts his game to the pitcher. He choked up on 0-0, like it was 0-2. He wore me out."
Right-hander Tyler Mahle, a signature piece of Cincinnati's rebuilding effort, made his major league debut and allowed three earned runs and four hits through five innings. He also collected his first career hit with a fourth-inning single.
"I liked that he came after their lineup," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I thought he was poised. He had good command of the fastball.
"He got under the ball a little bit and the ball came up in the zone. I wasn't disappointed in the outing. He never made me nervous. He was in control."
Mahle (0-1) advanced quickly through the Reds' system with little drop-off from one level to the next. He posted a 2.06 ERA at Double-A and a 2.73 ERA at Triple-A.
Mahle threw a no-hitter for Class A Daytona last season and a perfect game for Double-A Pensacola in April. He entered the 2017 season as the 12th-best prospect in the Reds' organization, according to Baseball America.
Mahle retired the Pirates in order in the first inning with one strikeout. He retired the first five batters he faced and struck out three through the first two innings on 32 pitches.
"Once I started to play catch, I was fine," Mahle said. "I got a little wild. I had to slow everything down. I like to work fast, but I got a little too fast and walked a couple guys."
The Reds (55-76) handed Mahle an early lead when Scooter Gennett doubled and scored on Scott Schebler's sacrifice fly to center, putting them ahead 1-0 in the second.
The Pirates had runners on first and third with one out in the third, but Mahle got Adam Frazier to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.
Pittsburgh broke through against Mahle in the fourth when Jaso's two-run double down the right-field line put them ahead 2-1.
Andrew McCutchen's RBI single in the fifth made the score 3-1.
Rodriguez, who made his third start of the season at shortstop, had the play of the day in the bottom half when he dived to catch Gennett's pop fly in shallow left field for the first out in the bottom of the eighth. Marte provided some cushion with a two-run single off Raisel Iglesias in the ninth to make it a three-run lead. Iglesias hadn't allowed a run in his past five appearances.
"The game was there for us to win, and we didn't do it," Price said.
NOTES: Pirates 2B Adam Frazier left the game in the third inning with right hamstring discomfort. ... RHP Tyler Mahle and C Chad Wallach became the second set of battery mates in Reds history (since 1869) to debut in the same game. On April 6, RHP Rookie Davis and C Stuart debuted together for Cincinnati. ... Mahle was recalled from Triple-A Louisville, RHP Luke Farrell was optioned to Triple-A and RHP Scott Feldman was moved to the 60-day DL. ... Pirates C Francisco Cervelli (left quad irritation) isn't expected to be on the DL past the 10-day minimum.