The Brewers head into Pittsburgh having lost nine of their first 10 games this month while the Pirates will be trying for a season-high fourth consecutive win Monday night.
Pittsburgh (21-16) has lost 29 of its past 37 games against its NL Central rival and 10 of 13 at PNC Park. The Pirates dropped two of three in Milwaukee in their only meeting this season, and a 6-4 comeback win in the May 1 finale snapped a nine-game skid in the series.
Pittsburgh, though, enters after outscoring the Mets 21-7 in its final three games in New York. The Pirates won 3-2 in Sunday's finale with Pedro Alvarez providing the tiebreaking single in the eighth inning.
Pittsburgh turns to A.J. Burnett as it tries to win four straight for the first time since July 25-28. The veteran right-hander has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts and has pitched six or more innings in all but one outing.
Burnett (3-3, 2.57 ERA), though, has had some trouble getting enough support with the Pirates providing him with an average of 3.31 runs per nine innings. He gave up two runs and two hits over seven innings Wednesday but was outdueled by Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in a 2-1 defeat.
"(A.J.) was a grown man out there doing some good work," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told the team's website.
Similarly, Burnett had a 3.66 ERA in three starts against Milwaukee last season but was backed by two total runs and went 0-2.
This time, he'll face a Brewers team that's dropped four straight after a 5-1 loss in Cincinnati on Sunday. Milwaukee (15-20) has been outscored 26-12 during the skid and 64-35 in its last 10 overall games, a stretch that began with the loss to Pittsburgh on May 1.
The Brewers have been hitting a respectable .279 over the last 10 games and Ryan Braun had a 12-game hit streak before Sunday's defeat. Milwaukee's starting pitchers, however, have an 8.12 ERA this month.
Marco Estrada (2-2, 6.05) gave up a career-high eight runs in a 10-1 loss to St. Louis on May 5, and has allowed 13 runs over his past two outings, covering 8 1-3 innings.
The Brewers gave Estrada two more days of rest and an extra bullpen session to prepare for Monday's start. He's 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in six career starts against Pittsburgh but gave up five runs over five innings in a 12-8 win April 30.
"I feel a million times better," Estrada told the team's website. "I know those things are going to happen, but I didn't like how the mental aspect of it was lost. Normally, I feel like I have pretty good control over that. I didn't have it that day, but I've worked on it. Mentally, right now, I'm pretty strong."
Andrew McCutchen , batting .343 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in his past 17 games against Milwaukee, has six hits in his last 12 at-bats against Estrada, including a pair of home runs.
Braun is 6 for 14 (.429) all-time against Burnett, but he may get a day off to rest his neck and back.
|May 08, 2013||Tom Gorzelanny||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|April 28, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Right index finger|
|April 12, 2013||Alex Gonzalez||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 07, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left quad|
|April 07, 2013||Chris Narveson||15-Day DL||Sprained middle finger|
|April 06, 2013||Aramis Ramirez||15-Day DL||Left knee sprain|
|May 01, 2013||James McDonald||15-Day DL||Right shoulder discomfort|
|April 27, 2013||Travis Snider||Day-to-Day||Left side discomfort|
|April 27, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Right index finger laceration|
|April 26, 2013||Neil Walker||Day-to-Day||Left game - right index finger|
|April 09, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||Day-to-Day||Left game - left leg strain|
|March 26, 2013||Brandon Inge||15-Day DL||Right scapula soreness|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The way the Milwaukee Brewers figure it, they were due. Then again, they always seem due when they play the Pittsburgh Pirates .
Marco Estrada allowed three hits over seven innings and the Brewers ran wild over the Pirates in a 5-1 victory on Monday to snap a four-game losing streak. Milwaukee began the night just 1-9 in May but stole a season-high six bases against Pittsburgh backup catcher Mike McKenry and took advantage of three Pirate errors.
"We needed to get back on the right track," manager Ron Roenicke said. "We got a couple breaks, a couple choppers, that went our way. So that was nice to see, but we played a good game."
Norichika Aoki went 3 for 5 with three RBIs and two stolen bases for the Brewers. Jean Segura added three hits and three stolen bases as Milwaukee at will against A.J. Burnett (3-4) and McKenry, filling in while starter Russell Martin deals with a neck problem.
"I did what I could, Mike did what he could," Burnett said. "It's not for not trying. They're going to run on everything and when you have speed most of the time it's going to play in your favor. It's my fault for not keeping them off the bases."
Burnett allowed four runs in seven innings and pushed his National League-leading strikeout total to 72, but Pittsburgh couldn't extend its winning streak to a season-high four games as the Brewers used their speed to take advantage of several rallies in which the ball barely got out of the infield.
"Sometimes you'd rather have them hit balls 800 feet," Burnett said.
Estrada (3-2) bounced back from a rough start against St. Louis by striking out five and issuing just one walk to improve to 4-0 in his career against Pittsburgh. Roenicke pushed back Estrada's next start to give him some time to work on some things. It paid off with his best performance of the season.
"You get more days to work on stuff and I think mentally it helps because you forget about whatever," Estrada said.
The Brewers needed to find ways to generate offense while playing without star Ryan Braun , given the night off as a precaution after a neck issue that bothered him earlier this season against Los Angeles flared up.
Aoki and Segura more than picked up the slack, taking the extra base whenever the opportunity presented itself.
"It's the same as every night, we just try to stay aggressive on the basepaths and if you can go for the next base, we go for it," Aoki said. "That just showed tonight."
While McKenry can be a sparkplug at times offensively, his defense remains an issue. He allowed the New York Mets to steal four bases on Sunday, and things only got worse at the start of a 10-game homestand - all against sub-.500 teams - the Pirates hope will allow them to make inroads on streaking St. Louis in the NL Central.
The trouble started early. Aoki doubled to lead off the game and Segura reached on an infield hit. Segura promptly dashed to second even though McKenry called a pitchout. Aoki scored when Carlos Gomez 's chopper to the mound skipped of Burnett's glove and rolled away.
Burnett escaped the first by allowing just the one run, but Aoki and Segura struck again in the fifth. Logan Schafer led off with a double and moved to third on Estrada's sacrifice bunt. Aoki followed with a double then swiped third and scored on a swinging bunt by Segura.
The Pirates, meanwhile, could manage nothing against Estrada, who gave Milwaukee's beleaguered pitching staff a much-needed quality start. The Brewers have the worst ERA (4.70) in the NL, a number that took a serious uptick when Estrada was shelled in his previous start, giving up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings against the Cardinals.
There were no such issues against the Pirates. Estrada improved to 4-0 against Pittsburgh. The Pirates touched him for a run in the seventh on Pedro Alvarez 's RBI-groundout but by then he was staked to a 4-1 lead thanks to a bumbling sequence in Burnett's final inning of work.
Schafer hit a dribbled to first to lead off the seventh but reached when Gaby Sanchez couldn't collect the ball and step on the bag. Schafer then moved to second when Burnett threw wildly to first trying to keep Schafer near the bag. One batter later Aoki dribbled a grounder that Burnett mishandled for his second error of the inning. Schafer scored and Milwaukee was firmly in control.
"Tonight it was a storm we didn't have answers for out there," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "This has not been the norm, this has been abnormal for us. I'm going to go, take a shower, head to the house and get ready to play tomorrow."
NOTES: Milwaukee 2B Rickie Weeks did not start for the first time this season. Manager Ron Roenicke felt Weeks could use the rest. Weeks entered the game in the ninth as a pinch hitter and struck out to drop his average to .181. ... The series continues Tuesday. Kyle Lohse (1-4, 3.53 ERA) starts for the Brewers against Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke (3-1, 2.95) ... Pirates closer Jason Grilli left the ballpark for a few hours Monday afternoon due to a personal issue but the NL leader in saves returned by the middle of the game ... Pittsburgh 2B Neil Walker went 0 for 4 in his return from the 15-day disabled list with a hand injury.