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Brewers avoid sweep against Pirates

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 24 2014 05:31:34 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 24 2014 05:31:34 PM CDT

MILWAUKEE -- There was no need for brooms Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.

The Milwaukee Brewers, in danger of being swept at home by the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time since 2004 -- and hanging to a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central -- snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 42,761.

"We don't get down too much," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We had a couple of bad games but they still react well the next day."

Right-hander Mike Fiers stepped forward as the Brewers' stopper Sunday, holding the Pirates to two runs on two hits -- one of them a two-out, two-run home run by left fielder Starling Marte that tied the game at 2-2 in the second inning.

After that, Fiers retired 16 of his next 17 batters before right-hander Jeremy Jeffress took over in the eighth.

"That was really good again," Roenicke said. "He left the one change-up up (to Marte) but aside from that, he was outstanding. He's pitching great. His fastball has been great. He's locating it, it's got life on it. Then he mixes in the change-ups and the curveballs. It's tough to figure out what he's going to do."

Since being recalled from Nashville on Aug. 8, Fiers is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA.

"Losing two to the Pirates, the first two games, we knew we needed to come back and do whatever we could to get a win," said Fiers, who struck out seven over seven innings of work. "They made a lot of defensive plays behind me too, and getting the early lead again."

Milwaukee scored two runs in the first with four straight singles off Pirates right-hander Vance Worley. Marte's home run erased the lead in the second but the Brewers went back on top with back-to-back doubles by center fielder Carlos Gomez and catcher Jonathan Lucroy to open the third and made it a two-run game when Aramis Ramirez drove in another with a single to right, part of a three-hit day for the third baseman.

All four Milwaukee runs came with two outs.

"For whatever reason, it seems like those two-out runs are a momentum changer," said right fielder Ryan Braun, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. "It was a good job by us not giving up on innings just because there were two outs.

For the third straight day, the Brewers loaded the bases frequently against the Pirates. But unlike their previous two games, in which they stranded 22 runners and went a combined 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position, the Brewers managed to cash in just enough against Worley (5-4), who allowed 12 hits and a walk over 6 1/3 innings of work.

"I haven't seen it very often, with two outs, nobody on, four straight hits," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "And again it goes back to rhythm. I think his angle. Third inning he found his rhythm."

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen homered off Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth to make it a one-run game. Rodriguez issued a two-out walk to catcher Russell Martin but stuck out first baseman Pedro Alvarez to lock down his 39th save of the season.

"It's a good division," Hurdle said. "It's going to be a fight to the finish. The Brewers have a good club, we have a good club. They believe in themselves, we believe in ourselves. I just love the fact that we're playing games that matter late, and our guys are playing with great effort and great focus."

The Brewers moved to 1 1/2 games over St. Louis, which lost 7-1 to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Pittsburgh had gained two games on Milwaukee but heads home to face the Cardinals five games back in the division.

NOTES: Brewers SS Jean Segura was out of the starting lineup for a second day as manager Ron Roenicke tried to give the slumping second-year player a mental break. ... OF Gregory Polanco returned to the Pirates' lineup after getting four days off to work on his swing. Polanco had one hit in his last 27 at-bats before getting a rest and struck out in three at-bats Sunday.