A small indicator of how much the Pittsburgh Pirates have improved is their play this season at Miller Park, a place where wins were once extremely rare.
Pittsburgh (49-38) has added to its breakthrough campaign by winning 11 of 14, and rebounded from Friday's series-opening loss by rallying for a 6-4 victory Saturday.
The Pirates took advantage of two errors and a passed ball in the seventh inning to take the lead for good for their third win in five visits to Miller Park in 2012. They had totaled six wins over their previous 49 games there.
Andrew McCutchen hit his fourth home run in three games and 20th overall during Saturday's victory. The NL's leading hitter (.366) is batting .477 (41 for 86) with nine homers and 26 RBIs over his last 21 games.
"It's been fun to watch. The numbers up there, they really get your attention. The numbers he's been putting up since May, then you look at June, you look at July and keep moving forward," manager Clint Hurdle said.
McCutchen will try to stay hot while leading the Pirates back into sole possession of first place in the NL Central and helping Burnett (10-2, 3.68 ERA) match the longest win streak in the majors this season. The New York Mets ' R.A. Dickey is currently on a 10-game run.
Burnett's streak is the longest by a Pirates starter since Dock Ellis won 13 straight in 1971.
"Seeing what's going on here, it's fun to be a part of it," Burnett said.
Burnett has faced the Brewers (41-46) once since the end of the 2008 season, allowing two runs over seven innings in a 5-2 win for the New York Yankees on June 29, 2011.
The right-hander, though, might have to outduel Gallardo (7-6, 3.74), who is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA in his last four starts against the Pirates.
Gallardo is also 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA in his two outings this month and 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA over his last six. He gave up a solo homer and three singles over six innings during his most recent outing, a 7-1 win in Houston on July 6."He's got so many different weapons that he can use. And when he gets in a tight spot when he's locating with all those different pitches, it's going to be pretty tough for them to hit." manager Ron Roenicke said.
McCutchen, who has homered in three straight games against Milwaukee, is 4 for 15 (.267) with two doubles in his career against Gallardo. Neil Walker , batting .473 during a 14-game hit streak, is 2 for 5.
The Brewers' Ryan Braun is 4 for 6 - all singles - lifetime versus Burnett.
|July 05, 2012||Alex Presley||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 03, 2012||Alex Presley||Day-to-Day||Left game - concussion-like symptoms|
|June 30, 2012||Andrew McCutchen||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained left wrist|
|June 25, 2012||Rod Barajas||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left knee|
|May 30, 2012||Charlie Morton||60-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|May 10, 2012||Daniel McCutchen||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
|May 26, 2012||Cesar Izturis||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|May 26, 2012||Travis Ishikawa||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Yovani Gallardo gave the Milwaukee Brewers what they needed heading into a big week of games against division rivals.
Gallardo struck out a career-high 14 in seven innings and the Brewers used a four-run sixth to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 on Sunday.
"It's really like win or go home every game," Gallardo said. "We all know the nine games we have here, the next series with the Cardinals, then the Reds. They're very important."
Gallardo (8-6) gave up four hits, including Andrew McCutchen 's homer in the fourth.
Milwaukee took two of three from the Pirates. St. Louis comes in for three and then the homestand ends with three against the Reds.
Gallardo struck out two in every inning except the sixth when he fanned just one and the side in the seventh.
"Command was probably the best I've had all year," he said. "That really helped."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle felt that the team took itself out of the game against Gallardo.
"We got in a bad rut here, swinging the bat as far as striking out," Hurdle said. "Gallardo was very good today. We were susceptible to a lot of things he was doing. He had a very sharp breaking ball."
Gallardo won consecutive starts for the second time this season.
Martin Maldonado went 3 for 4 with one RBI for Milwaukee.
John Axford pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
McCutchen, who had three of the Pirates' five hits, hit his 21st homer and fifth in the past four games. He also had two singles. He is batting .560 (28 for 50) with seven homers, 19 runs scored and 16 RBIs in past 12 games and leads the majors with a .371 average.
"He is as good a player as there is in the league," Hurdle said. "He is playing at an elite level, all across the board. He has earned his name being in those (MVP) conversations at this point. But it is still early. We've all got work to do."
McCutchen made an impression on Gallardo, too.
"He's on fire," Gallardo said. "He's swinging the bat very well. That home run was a pretty good pitch. It was on the outside part of the plate."
A.J. Burnett (10-3) had his career-high nine-game winning streak ended.
"Things happen. It's baseball," he said. "It's not from a lack of effort. These guys try as hard as they can out there. It just didn't go our way."
It did go the Pirates' way early as Burnett stranded seven runners in scoring position through five innings, but then Milwaukee pushed across four runs and four hits and one error in the sixth.
Nyjer Morgan singled. Ryan Braun singled to right fielder Garrett Jones , whose throw sailed passed the cutoff man and allowed Morgan to score. Braun went to third on the play and scored on Aramis Ramirez 's RBI single.
Ramirez stole second as Corey Hart struck out. Ramirez scored on Rickie Weeks ' double, who then scored on Maldonado's third hit of the game.
"We didn't defend very well behind him (Burnett) which complicated it," Hurdle said. "The throw and the play at third, those are plays we got to make. We didn't handle the inning very well. A.J. pitched a very, very good ball game today."
Burnett allowed four runs and nine hits and struck out seven in seven innings.
NOTES: The last Pittsburgh pitcher to win more than nine straight decisions was Dock Ellis with 13 in 1971. ... Walker extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the first. ... Jeff Bianchi made his Brewers' debut in the field when he started at shortstop. His contract was selected from Triple-A Nashville on Thursday. He pinch hit on Friday and struck out.