CINCINNATI, OCT. 12 -- If only the Pittsburgh Pirates had hit baseballs as well as they guarded secrets, they'd still be alive in the National League Championship Series.

The Pirates played the espionage game decidedly better than the contest that mattered, however, mustering only one hit tonight as the Cincinnati Reds captured their first NL pennant in 14 years with a 2-1 Game 6 victory before 56,079.

The second-largest crowd in Riverfront Stadium history watched the Reds squander several opportunities, blowing a 1-0 lead and allowing the Pirates to maintain a 1-1 tie through six innings despite being outhit by a 6-1 margin while Cincinnati threatened constantly to take command for good.

But pinch hitter Luis Quinones delivered a run-scoring single in the seventh inning off Pirates reliever Zane Smith, and two-thirds of Cincinnati's "Nasty Boys" bullpen -- Norm Charlton and Randy Myers -- followed the six-inning, one-hit pitching of starter Danny Jackson to make that meager output stand and finish the second one-hitter in playoff history and the fourth one-run game of the series.

"This was a great series, every single moment of it," Reds shortstop Barry Larkin said. "It was a battle for every second of every game and it was a battle again tonight. . . . We needed the pitching tonight, and we got a whole lot of it."

Cincinnati right fielder Glenn Braggs preserved the win with a leaping catch of Carmelo Martinez's ninth-inning blast to the wall with one on and one out. Myers -- who shared the series' most valuable player honors with fellow reliever Ron Dibble -- struck out Don Slaught for the final out, touching off a wild celebration that included Larkin turning backflips on the infield as the Reds paraded past owner Marge Schott and exchanged high fives.

"I thought Martinez's ball was a homer when he hit it," Pirates Manager Jim Leyland said. "And as it turned out, it would have been. . . . They were just that one step ahead of us for six games, just like on that play."

Said Myers: "You might say it would have been out, but I say that's what we have 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 guys in right field for."

The day was an intriguing one from the start, as Leyland, who earlier had agreed to a new two-year contract, strung out an afternoon of uncertainty about how he'd deploy surprise starter Ted Power and the quick-to-follow Smith. Jackson quickly stole the show, but the Reds' offensive inefficiency -- they left the bases loaded twice in the first six innings -- kept the Pirates close.

Eric Davis gave the Reds a 1-0 lead with an RBI groundout in the first inning, and Martinez tied the game with a run-scoring double in the fifth that proved to be the Pirates' lone hit.

"They just shut us down, period," Pittsburgh outfielder Barry Bonds said. "I thought coming into the series that we'd do some real damage against their starters, but they corraled us pretty good. And their relievers are simply awesome."

Cincinnati's winning rally began when second baseman Ron Oester, inserted as part of a double switch an inning earlier, dumped a leadoff single into right field against Smith.

Larkin's bunt attempt resulted in a popout, but Billy Hatcher lined a single into right-center to send Oester to third. Quinones scored him by fighting off Smith's tough, 3-2 fastball and poking a decisive single into right with a defensive, inside-out swing.

The Reds will face the Oakland Athletics here Tuesday in Game 1 of the World Series. But "for now, we'll just savor this," Manager Lou Piniella said. "It's been a tough grind for us, and this is something to sit back and enjoy."

Leyland's overnight ploy of switching his starter from left-hander Smith to right-hander Power seemed to fail initially, since Piniella stayed with a predominantly right-handed lineup in anticipation of Smith's early insertion.

But Power gave up only one tainted run, and Smith pitched effectively. "If I had known we'd have given up only two runs, juggling the pitchers the way we did, I'd have said we'd have won for sure," Leyland said.

However, Piniella's pregame steadiness may have been the deciding factor tonight, for he left himself enough late-inning flexibility that Leyland allowed Smith to face Quinones rather than bring in a right-hander with the possibility of Piniella countering with lefty Hal Morris.

"I don't know what {Leyland's} trying to do, and I'm not too concerned about it," Piniella said before the game. "The players still have to decide games. . . . Maybe we'll just go out and score three or four runs off Power in the first inning, handle it that way."

That wasn't such a far-fetched notion. Power hadn't started a game since Sept. 27, 1989 -- when, as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, he worked the first three innings of a 13-1 loss to the New York Mets. All 40 of his appearances this season were in relief, and he carried an 0-4 record and 6.75 ERA against the Reds -- one of the journeyman's five former clubs.

Cincinnati grabbed the lead in the first inning, but Power's fielders were the culprits. Shortstop Jay Bell got Larkin's leadoff grounder stuck in his glove for a charitable infield single, and catcher Slaught threw the ball into center field as Larkin stole second.

Still, Power might have escaped unscathed. After Paul O'Neill walked, Davis -- at the time three for 19 in the series as he fights an ailing shoulder and knee -- hit a potential double-play bouncer to Bell; but second baseman Jose Lind couldn't get off a throw to first, and Larkin scored.

Power didn't fool many people in his 40-pitch outing, but the Reds didn't capitalize on their chances. Todd Benzinger sent Bonds to the left field wall with a second-inning drive, but Bonds calmly made the catch.

After Cincinnati finished Power and loaded the bases against Smith in the third, center fielder Andy Van Slyke chased down Chris Sabo's blast a few steps in front of the wall at the 404-foot sign.

But Jackson was sharp enough through the early going that it seemed one run might be all the Reds needed. The left-hander breezed through four perfect innings and retired the first 13 Pittsburgh hitters he faced.

But the prosperity ended abruptly. Bonds became the Pirates' first base runner by drawing a one-out walk in the fifth, then became Pittsburgh's first run when Martinez followed with a double off the top of the right field wall.

Smith also was in a middle-innings groove, retiring seven in a row. O'Neill led off the sixth by ripping a single to center. Davis then sent a sinking liner toward right field for a single that R.J. Reynolds misplayed to leave runners at second and third with no outs.

But Smith escaped, wrapping two popouts and a strikeout around an intentional walk to Benzinger to keep the game tied at 1. The Pirates returned the favor in the top of the seventh, though, wasting leadoff walks to Bonds and Bobby Bonilla that finished Jackson.

"We let them off the hook a few times," Davis said, "but we reeled them in when it mattered, didn't we?"