CINCINNATI, OCT. 5 -- The script and setting remained the same. Only the names were changed, although one of the day's most innocent pitching bystanders certainly was not protected.

The Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates played out a twisting plot in today's Game 2 of the National League Championship Series that was virtually identical to the one they had followed in the playoff opener the night before. This time, Barry Bonds and the Pirates were the culprits -- or victims -- as Cincinnati won, 2-1, before 54,456 at Riverfront Stadium to tie the series at one victory apiece.

"Same game, same teams, different results," Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke said. "We liked how they treated us so much that we decided to hand one back to them. I guess this is copycat baseball."

The Reds were as efficient and unforgiving today as they had been wasteful and generous in Thursday night's loss.

They certainly didn't hammer Pittsburgh ace Doug Drabek, but their five hits proved to be enough to make the unrelenting right-hander a hard-luck loser.

The Pirates were the bumblers this time, giving a mirror-image rendition of Cincinnati's defeat-producing missteps of Game 1. Just as the Reds ran themselves out of Thursday's game with rampant indiscretion on the basepaths, Pittsburgh hurt itself today by having two runners thrown out at second base and another at third.

And just as Cincinnati left fielder Eric Davis let in the decisive run in the opener by botching a seemingly routine fly ball, his Pirates counterpart, Bonds, let a catchable drive elude him for the hit that made the difference this afternoon.

The game was tied, 1-1, in the fifth inning when Paul O'Neill lifted a high fly toward deep left-center field. O'Neill said later that he believed the ball would be at least off the wall, if not over it, when he hit it. It fell short, though, and Bonds -- who boasts regularly that he's the best defensive left fielder in baseball -- seemed likely to make the catch as he raced to his left.

But he lost sight of the ball in the sun, waving his glove in vain as it landed behind him while Herm Winningham scored for the 2-1 lead Cincinnati never relinquished.

"I reached up to flip my {sun} glasses down, and I lost track of the ball," Bonds said. "I just tried to run back to where I thought it was going to go. I was in the vicinity. I just couldn't get it.

"Without the sun the way it was, I make that play, no question. In this type of game, there's no way I don't . . . The sun was terrible. It was ridiculous to be out there playing a game at this time of the day. Maybe it wasn't so bad for the rest of the guys, but for me and Eric it was awful."

Davis, who misplayed Van Slyke's fly ball into a double Thursday, sympathized with Bonds.

"Every catch out there today was like a blind stab," said Davis, who told teammates in the dugout after the first inning to run out any fly to left because the chances were that the ball would drop.

Said Pirates Manager Jim Leyland: "You figure all the luck is going to even out throughout the course of a series. You just don't expect it to even out so quickly."

The Reds avoided the indignity of being swept at home at the beginning of their first NLCS in 11 years. It will resume with Game 3 Monday in Pittsburgh, with the Pirates' Zane Smith opposing Danny Jackson.

O'Neill and Winningham had two hits apiece today. The top one-third of the Reds' lineup went five for 11 against Drabek, the rest zero for 17. O'Neill drove in the Reds' runs with a first-inning single to accompany his solar double.

And three Reds pitchers made that modest output stand up. Starter Tom Browning yielded three walks and six hits -- including Jose Lind's unlikely home run -- in six innings, stranding runners in scoring position in the first and second.

The Pirates helped by having Jeff King picked off second base in the second, Gary Redus caught stealing in the third and Van Slyke thrown out at third in the sixth on a medium-deep fly ball to O'Neill in right.

"Our aggressiveness backfired, but I don't have any problem with it," Leyland said. "I don't want us to be tame."

And the Reds' "Nasty Boys" bullpen did not fail on this day, as flamethrowers Ron Dibble and Randy Myers followed Browning with three innings of no-hit, two-walk, scoreless relief.

Drabek gave up three hits and one walk after the first inning, retiring 20 of the last 24 batters he faced to finish his eight innings with eight strikeouts. "I had good stuff; it just took me one inning too long to get my wakeup call," said Drabek, who had an NL-best 22 wins this season after going 13-2 with a 2.12 ERA in 16 starts after the all-star break.

Just as they had in Game 1, the Reds took the early lead. Browning escaped from a first-and-second, no-out predicament in the Pirates' half of the first by retiring Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla and Bonds, then Cincinnati put Drabek in immediate trouble.

Barry Larkin drew a leadoff walk, stole second and went to third when Winningham pulled a line-drive single to right field. O'Neill followed with a looper toward short right that second baseman Lind couldn't overtake, and the Reds led, 1-0.

One out later, the Pirates walked Hal Morris intentionally to load the bases for Chris Sabo. But Drabek wriggled free by knocking down Sabo's bouncer to force out Winningham at home, then striking out Joe Oliver on a check swing.

Browning faced jams in both the second and third innings, putting two runners aboard each time. But the Pirates went hitless in three at-bats with men in scoring position, and it remained 1-0 as Drabek settled into a middle-innings groove.

Pittsburgh got even in the fifth. Browning left a 2-2 breaking ball high and tight to Lind, who had one homer in 514 at-bats this season and five in 1,846 regular season big-league at-bats. But he put one into the second deck above the left field wall to make it 1-1.

Larkin singled with one out in the Cincinnati half of the fifth. Winningham forced him, then stole second to set up the O'Neill's misadventure.

"We very easily could be up 2-0," Reds Manager Lou Piniella said. "Of course, they can say the same thing."