May 29 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell hit his 12th home run during May on Wednesday.
Bell, 26, belted an 0-1 pitch from Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen over the left field wall in the Pirates' 7-2 win. He tied former Pittsburgh outfielder Jason Bay for the most home runs by a Pirates player in May.
Bell is hitting .345 with 18 home runs and 51 RBIs this year.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Bell deserves to be an early front-runner for the National League MVP award.
"It's been one of the most special starts I've seen in all the years I've been at the Major League level," Hurdle told reporters.
Pittsburgh moved to 27-27 with Wednesday's win. The Pirates are 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central Division.