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Pirates Vs. Braves: James McDonald Strikes Out Nine As Bucs Hold Onto First Place

James McDonald struck out nine batters in 5.1 innings as the Pirates defeated the Braves 3-1 on a rain-delayed Monday night game in Atlanta.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Houston Astros, and the Milwaukee Brewers were off, so the Pirates and Cardinals are now tied atop the NL Central, with the Brewers a half-game back.

McDonald walked none through five innings, but ran into trouble in the sixth, when he allowed two singles and then had a third batter reach when catcher Michael McKenry got hit with a bat and called for catcher's interference.

The Bucs turned to Chris Resop, who got Nate McLouth to pop out and Alex Gonzalez to strike out to end the threat.

The Braves' only run came on a Chipper Jones solo homer in the eighth.

Tim Hudson struck out eight for Atlanta, but allowed two runs in the second after starting the inning with two straight walks, and one run in the sixth.

Joel Hanrahan picked up the save for the Bucs.

Pedro Alvarez went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first game back after returning from the minors.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.