Pirates' fielders reward quick worker Nova

Pirates' fielders reward quick worker Nova

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Ivan Nova continued his superb pitching for the Pirates in a 4-1 win over the Reds on Thursday night at PNC Park. The right-hander was backed by some outstanding defense.

Everybody got into the act defensively.

"It's funny how that happens when you throw strikes and you're down in the zone," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "They go hand-in-hand. People are engaged and they're ready to play, they want to play, they want to make plays. Gregory Polanco started it off going to the fence in foul territory in the first inning, two nice double plays, one obviously in the sixth that really kind of turned that inning back for us.

Kang's backhanded stop at third

"Andrew [McCutchen] makes a nice running grab of a bullet hit over his head. Jung Ho Kang, how about the backhand play he made? He made two plays in that same inning, and then Jordy Mercer's pick, that backhand pick in the eighth, just a sweet play by a really good shortstop."

Mercer's dazzling play at short

Reds manager Bryan Price took note of the Pittsburgh defense.

"McCutchen went back on some balls tonight in center field and made some really good plays there," Price said. "They came up with the big double plays and just didn't give us a lot."

McCutchen's leaping grab

Nova, acquired from the Yankees at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, improved to 5-0 as a Pirate. Nova is now 12-3 in 23 career appearances against the National League. He noticed the defense.

"We played really good defense," Nova said. "A lot of ground balls again, McCutchen made a good play out there. It was a collective win.

The Pirates' defense likes playing behind Nova, who works really quick on the mound.

"He's done it before and he's basically done it in every start he's went out there," Mercer said. "Worked fast, threw a lot of strikes, get the ball on the ground. It's fun, it's a lot of fun. That's what me and Josh Harrison were saying during the game. It's fun playing behind him because you can get three [outs] in a row real quick and go back in the dugout."

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.