Vincent Pule returned from suspension and Bongani Sam retained his spot in the line-up after impressing last Saturday with Alfred Ndengane given a rare start.
Usuthu, desperate to end a dismal run of form were out firing on all cylinders through talisman Bonginkosi Ntuli, but poor finishing left the Buccaneers off the hook.
Pirates were denied a 19th minute opener when Siyabonga Mbatha raced off his line to deny Pule with a point-blank save inside the six-yard area.
The visitors went close to taking the lead five minutes before the half-hour mark, but Wayne Sandilands managed to get down to smother Siyethemba Sithebe’s snap effort.
Pule threatened again seven minutes to halftime when his powerful strike from a shortly-taken corner on the left came struck the outside post before bouncing back into play.
The Buccaneers were out firing in the second half and went ahead after Thembinkosi Lorch delivered a pin-point cross to Pule, who cushioned in at the near post 52 minutes gone.
Luvuyo Memela went close to doubling his side’s advantage soon afterwards, but Mbatha charged down the attacker before pulling off another point-blank save.
Sam should’ve given the Buccaneers a second five minutes later when he opened up the defence only to fire against the post from a tight angle.
The full-back’s evening however came to an end after being stretched off for Paseka Mako following the 73rd minute.
Mbatha denied the Buccaneers once again on 83 minutes when he parried Gabadinho Mhango’s header across the far post, as the encounter ended 1-0 at Orlando Stadium.
Pirates: Sandilands, Ndengane, Jele, Sam, Dube, Motshwari, Makaringe, Pule, Lorch, Memela, Mhango.
Subs: Delle, Ndlovu, Mako, Mntambo, Monyane, Mulenga, Mabasa.
AmaZulu: Mbatha, Darpoh, Mabiliso, Booysen, Xoki, Ncube, Sithebe, Maduna, Magubane, Lacny, Ntuli.
Subs: Boshoff, Khumalo, Morton, Vilakazi, Chawaphiwa, Magaqa, Majoro.