CINCINNATI -- Bronson Arroyo learned how to pitch under pressure while he was with the Boston Red Sox.
He's putting those lessons to use with the Cincinnati Reds.
Arroyo, acquired by Cincinnati during spring training after three straight seasons of reaching the playoffs in Boston, pitched eight solid innings for his third straight win and Brandon Phillips drove in the go-ahead run to help the Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Sunday afternoon.
Arroyo has won all three of his September starts for a Reds team trying to stay alive in the race for a post-season berth. They took advantage of Houston's 4-0 loss at Milwaukee to leapfrog over the Astros into fifth place in the National League wild-card race, 3½ games behind front-running San Diego, and into second place in the Central Division behind St. Louis.
"It's not just getting into the playoffs," Arroyo said, who recorded his first career shutout with a 3-0 win over San Francisco while pitching on three days rest in his previous start on Tuesday. "It was facing the (New York) Yankees 19 times in a playoff atmosphere and the pressure of the media. You get accustomed to the pressure of pitching in big games."
"He's definitely been through it before," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.
Arroyo didn't allow a hit to the team with which he broke into the majors until Ryan Doumit's line drive single to right leading off the fifth. Doumit was erased on a double play. The only other baserunner the right-hander allowed through the first five innings was Sanchez, who was hit by a pitch with two outs in the first inning.
Arroyo (13-9) allowed four hits and two runs with no walks and seven strikeouts. He faced the minimum three batters in six of his eight innings.
"As ballplayers, we enjoy being in situations where you have to win," Arroyo said. "You have to bring your 'A' game every night."
"Bronson mixed up his pitches well," Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said. "We had one opportunity, and we took advantage of it."
Scott Schoeneweis pitched the ninth for his second save in two opportunities.
The Reds were trailing 2-0 in the sixth inning when Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Dunn followed Rich Aurilia's leadoff walk with back-to-back singles off rookie left-hander Shane Youman, who was making his major league debut. Encarnacion scored and Dunn went to second on David Ross' sacrifice fly, and Phillips greeted reliever Josh Sharpless with a go-ahead single to right.
Dunn moving up on Ross' deep sacrifice fly to left field was a key play, Narron said.
"That's one of those things that can be overlooked," he said. "That's one of those little things you start talking about the first day of spring training. It was an outstanding play. That's how you're supposed to play the game."
Youman (0-1) allowed just two hits and three walks in his first five innings. He left after giving up three runs and five hits with four walks and one strikeout in 5 1/3 innings.
"I wasn't expecting to start off as well as I did," Youman said. "For the first three innings, I had the jitterbugs. I started to settle down, but then the jitterbugs came back in the sixth. They kept me on a high the whole time."
National League batting leader Freddy Sanchez broke up the scoreless tie and Arroyo's bid for a second straight shutout in the sixth. Sanchez, who went into the game leading the league with a .340 batting average, followed two-out singles by Chris Duffy and Jack Wilson and a wild pitch with a sharp one-hopper up the middle that glanced off the glove of Phillips at second base and into center to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Sanchez was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. His average remained at .340 after going 1-for-3.
The Reds added an insurance run in the seventh on Royce Clayton's double and Aurilia's RBI single.
Youman on Sunday became the ninth pitcher to start for the Pirates this season, equaling the number that started at least once for Pittsburgh last season. ... C Carlos Maldonado's start for Pittsburgh was his first in the majors. ... Phillips stole second in the seventh for his 24th stolen base of the season, the most by any NL second baseman.