- Associated Press - Sunday, July 13, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - The Pirates’ MVP saved them. Twice.

Andrew McCutchen tied the game with a solo homer in the ninth inning Saturday night, then connected again in the 11th inning, rallying the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

“Strange game,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s summertime. Strange things are happening.”

And some spectacular things from Pittsburgh’s best player. The Pirates blew a four-run lead for the second straight night, but managed to come back behind McCutchen, who has more homers against Cincinnati than anyone else since 2009.

With two swings, he saved them from another discouraging meltdown.

“Huge swings of the bat for us,” Hurdle said. “He’s a special player.”

The National League’s 2013 MVP tied it in the ninth off Jonathan Broxton, filling in the closer’s role because Aroldis Chapman had pitched four days in a row. He hit his 17th homer with two outs in the 11th off J.J. Hoover (1-7) for his ninth career multihomer game.

“He does a lot of unreal stuff,” said left-hander Justin Wilson (3-1), who escaped a threat in the 10th. “He’s an unbelievable player. I’m glad I’m on his team and I don’t have to pitch against him.”

Wilson got out of a threat in the 10th with the help of right fielder Gregory Polanco, who threw Ramon Santiago out at the plate as he tried to score from second base on Jay Bruce’s single.

“I can’t take all the credit,” McCutchen said. “You’ve got to think of the throw from Polanco. That was a huge throw, a game-changer for us.”

McCutchen put the Pirates back ahead with a first-pitch homer off Hoover.

“I was just ready to hit,” he said. “It was a slider right down the middle, and I was ready to hit it.”

Jeanmar Gomez pitched the 11th for his first career save.

“We know what they have over there,” Bruce said. “A guy hits the tying and winning home runs - you don’t see that too often. I’m perfectly happy with what we did tonight, except for losing.”

The Reds won the series opener 6-5 by rallying in the eighth inning against All-Star reliever Tony Watson, overcoming a four-run deficit. They pulled out of a four-run deficit again on Saturday but couldn’t finish it off.

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