Pittsburgh will try to extend its scoreless streak during Friday night's series opener in Milwaukee with help from Jeff Karstens , who helped shut out the Brewers last weekend.
Alvarez hit three homers and drove in seven runs as the Pirates (70-60) won their final two games earlier this week against St. Louis, but they have only three victories in nine games.
Alvarez, who has a career-high 26 homers, is also 11 for 19 (.579) over his last five games.
"We can definitely use these two wins as a sparkplug for games to come," he said.
The Pirates' staff will try to help their team keep rolling by building on their back-to-back shutouts against the Cardinals.
"You go against that offense and you put 18 zeros on the board in 18 innings, I couldn't be any prouder of them," manager Clint Hurdle said following a 5-0 win Wednesday.
Pittsburgh's 21-inning scoreless streak is its longest since July 17-19, 2009, and it hasn't surpassed that mark since June 30-July 2, 1997, when the club held the Chicago White Sox without a run for 25 consecutive innings.
Karstens (5-3, 3.47 ERA) will try to keep that streak going with another superb outing against Milwaukee (62-68). The right-hander scattered seven hits and walked none during a 4-0 victory Saturday at PNC Park but left after tweaking his right groin in the eighth inning.
"Jeff gave us exactly the start we needed," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's website.
That loss was one of only two the Brewers have suffered in their last 10 games. The other came Thursday in a wild 12-11 loss at Chicago that snapped a four-game win streak.
Milwaukee blew a six-run advantage in the sixth inning but regained the lead on Cody Ransom 's solo homer in the seventh only to give up three runs in the ninth. Jonathan Lucroy matched a career high with seven RBIs, including a grand slam, and Rickie Weeks had a career-best five hits.
"Once we got the big lead and they came back we just didn't have the momentum," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Mark Rogers (2-1, 4.28) will try to help his team bounce back by earning a third straight win and his second in as many starts against Pittsburgh, which is 11-16 in August. The right-hander gave up three hits over five innings during a 7-0 win Sunday, his only matchup versus the Pirates in his brief career.
Milwaukee won two of three during that series at PNC Park but has split its six home matchups after winning 36 of the previous 39 at Miller Park over Pittsburgh.
Andrew McCutchen has homered in each of his past four games in Milwaukee and is 12 for 24 with nine RBIs there this season. The Pirates outfielder, though, is batting .252 in August after hitting .371 over the season's first four months.
Lucroy is a career .370 hitter against Pittsburgh, his best average versus any NL team, but he's 0 for 5 with three strikeouts against Karstens. Corey Hart , hitting .389 versus the Pirates this season, is 2 for 22 versus the right-hander.
Aramis Ramirez , meanwhile, is 7 for 16 (.438) with two homers against Karstens and hitting .407 (11 for 27) in his last seven games versus one of his former clubs.
|August 27, 2012||Neil Walker||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|August 25, 2012||Jose Tabata||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin discomfort|
|August 25, 2012||Chad Qualls||15-Day DL||Left toe sprain|
|August 19, 2012||Starling Marte||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|August 15, 2012||Neil Walker||Day-to-Day||Dislocated finger|
|August 14, 2012||Travis Snider||Day-to-Day||Left game - Aggravated right hamstring|
|July 29, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||60-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||60-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|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- If it was the last start of the season for Milwaukee rookie Mark Rogers the right-hander went out on a strong note.
Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez both went 3 for 4 with a homer, and Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens left for the second consecutive time with an injury as the Brewers beat the Pirates 9-3 on Friday night.
Rogers (3-1) gave up one run in 5 1-3 innings to win his third consecutive start in what could be his last outing of the year.
"I feel great about the season," he said. "I feel like I've come a long way this year. I've battled my way back from injuries before so it's pretty gratifying to be here right now and be a part of this ballclub."
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said on the team's television broadcast that Rogers would be shut down, but manager Ron Roenicke refused to confirm it after the game, saying he had not talked to Rogers.
"I don't want to say one way or another whether it is or not," Roenicke said.
The fifth pick in the 2004 draft, Rogers has been beset by injuries and had only pitched in four major league games before joining the Brewers in July. Last year, he underwent carpal tunnel surgery on both wrists and then was suspended 25 games for taking a banned supplement.
He struggled early this season at Triple-A Nashville, but improved and joined the Brewers' rotation in July.
"It's been a whirlwind, getting back from the surgery and everything else that was going on," Rogers said. "It was nice to get my feet wet early on in the season at Triple-A and get back into pitching shape and build from there."
He threw 134 1-3 innings combined at Triple-A Nashville and with the Brewers, up from 44 1-3 a year ago in the minor leagues. Previously, the most he had thrown in a season was 126 innings in 2010.
"I've been hurt," Rogers said. "I've gone down that road before so the last thing I want to do is get hurt," he said.
"I'm going to be brutally honest with them and right now I feel great," he said. "I want to be taking the ball every five days."
Ramirez had four RBIs and Nyjer Morgan had three hits, a stolen base and a walk for the Brewers.
Karstens (5-4) allowed four runs in the first inning and was forced to leave for the second consecutive start with a lower body injury. The right-hander allowed five of six batters to reach base before exiting with discomfort in his right hip flexor.
In his last start on Aug. 25 in Pittsburgh, he was removed after throwing seven innings in a 4-0 victory over Milwaukee due to a left groin strain. This time, he was charged with four runs in one-third of an inning, giving up five hits while striking out one.
Karstens said he had no inkling he would get hurt again.
"I don't want to put my team in a situation like that," Karstens said. "To kind of do that, one, it is upsetting to me and two, it is just disappointing because I felt like I let the team down. It is kind of deflating for myself."
Pittsburgh remained one-half game behind St. Louis for the final NL wild-card spot when the Cardinals lost 10-0 to Washington on Friday night.
With Pittsburgh star Andrew McCutchen getting a day off, Rogers allowed a solo home run to Garrett Jones in the fourth. He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out five.
Morgan, a late addition to the lineup when Norichika Aoki complained of neck pain before the game, led off the bottom of the first with a double and moved to third on Rickie Week's sharp single to right.
Karstens struck out Ryan Braun , but Ramirez laced a two-run single to left for a 2-0 lead. Hart hit his 25th home run for a 4-0 lead.
After Jonathan Lucroy singled, trainers went to the mound, talked to Karstens and he left the game.
He was replaced by Kyle McPherson , who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the day.
Jones' homer in the fourth was his 22nd.
Ramirez hit his 21st homer, a two-run shot, off Hisanori Takahashi in the eighth to make it 7-2.
Notes: Before the game, the Brewers dedicated a 7-foot tall bronze statue of longtime broadcaster Bob Uecker at Miller Park. ... The Pirates recalled Presley from Indianapolis. To make room on the roster, INF Chase d'Arnaud was optioned to Single-A Bradenton and 1B Jeff Clement was outrighted to Bradenton. ... Brewers INF Cody Ransom was claimed off waivers from Arizona. ... Aoki suffered a neck injury during a collision with Morgan on Thursday in Chicago. He is day-to-day. ... After the game, the Brewers recalled INF Eric Farris from Triple-A Nashville.