ATLANTA -- James McDonald struck out a career-high nine batters in 5 1/3 scoreless innings as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in game that started two hours and two minutes late Monday night.
The Pirates are tied with St. Louis for first place in the National League Central Division, a half-game ahead of Milwaukee.
McDonald (6-4) had the most strikeouts by a Pirates pitcher in almost two years. He gave up eight hits but did not walk a batter and ended each of the first five innings with strikeouts.
McDonald has not allowed a run in two straight wins. Joel Hanrahan pitched a perfect ninth for his 29th save in 30 chances.
Atlanta's Chipper Jones came off the disabled list with two hits, including a home run in the eighth inning. Jones, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on July 9, stole second base after his single in the third.
McDonald struck out Alex Gonzalez to end the second inning with runners on third and first. The right-hander struck out Freddie Freeman to end the third with runners on third and second. He fanned Gonzalez again to end the fourth following Nate McLouth's second hit.
The Braves loaded the bases against McDonald with one out in the sixth. Right-hander Chris Resop took over and ended the threat on McLouth's popup and Gonzalez's third strikeout.
After striking out the side in the first inning, Atlanta's Tim Hudson (9-7) walked Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez to open the second. They advanced on Lyle Overbay's fly to center, and McCutchen scored on Ronny Cedeno's groundout to third base. Alvarez scored on Michael McKenry's single to left.
McCutchen's single drove in Garrett Jones in the sixth for a 3-0 lead.
Hudson had eight strikeouts in his first loss since June 15.
Dan Uggla's sixth-inning single stretched his career-best hitting streak to 16 games, one night after it seemed to end at 14. An error charged Sunday to Cincinnati's Miguel Cairo was changed to a hit for Uggla on Monday, keeping the streak alive.
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