MILWAUKEE (AP) – Andrew McCutchen, Jody Mercer and Josh Bell each drove in two runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates preserved their faint playoff hopes alive with a 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
The Pirates won their fifth straight at Miller Park, and fifth of six overall to improve to .500 (75-75) for the first time since they were 69-69 on Sept. 8. Pittsburgh began the day five games behind San Francisco for the second NL wild card spot and St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins in between the Pirates and Giants.
McCutchen’s two-run double in the first staked rookie left-hander Steven Brault to an early lead. Bell’s two-run single in the fifth chased starter Matt Garza (5-8). Mercer produced run-scoring singles in the fourth and sixth.
Brault was making his seventh career start and had already lost twice to the Brewers. He allowed Domingo Santana’s run-scoring double in the third and Martin Maldonado’s home run in the fourth, and then ran into trouble in the fifth.
Jonathan Villar opened the inning with a walk and stole second before advancing to third on Orlando Arcia’s single to center. Jared Hughes (1-1) took over for Brault and gave up Chris Carter’ run-scoring double-play grounder and struck out Domingo Santana to end the inning.
Tony Watson pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 17 chances.
Adam Frazier went 3 for 4 and scored twice for the Pirates.
Garza allowed five runs and eight hits over four innings. He walked two and struck out two while slipping to 1-3 in four starts against the Pirates this season
The Brewers had won 11 of 17 since the Pirates’ four-game sweep in Milwaukee at the end of August, with home and away series victories over the NL Central Champion Chicago Cubs.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the out call on a force play at second in the sixth. After a 1:38 review, the call was upheld.
FEELING RIGHT AT HOME
McCutchen’s two-run double in the first extended his hitting streak to eight games and gave him 48 RBIs in 62 career games at Miller Park.
Opponents have roughed up Garza for 26 runs (16 earned) in his last seven starts. He is 1-4 with a 4.00 ERA over that stretch.
NEW BREWERS DADS
LF Ryan Braun and C Manny Pina missed the game in order to be with their wives and the newest member of their respective family. Braun’s wife, Larisa, gave birth to a son, Greyson Joseph. Pina’s wife, Leny, gave birth to a daughter, Jimena. However, Pina pinch hit in the ninth and flied out to end the game. Both players were expected back before the weekend.
Pirates: C Chris Stewart underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is expected to be out six-to-eight weeks. Dr. James Andrews operated on the 34-year-old catcher in Gulf Shores, Florida. … LF Starling Marte missed his 15th consecutive game with low back discomfort.
Brewers: The Brewers selected the contract of C/1B Josmil Pinto from Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (4-3, 3.97 ERA) makes his 12th major-league start. The 24-year-old right-hander is 0-0 with a 2.84 ERA in one career outing against the Brewers.
Brewers: RHP Jimmy Nelson (8-14, 4.42) makes his 10th career start against the Pirates. He is 5-2 with a 3.16 ERA in his previous nine starts, including 1-0 with a 4.80 ERA ibn three starts this season.
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