Brewers 11, Pirates 4
Making what likely was his final start before being sent back to the bullpen, Marco Estrada made the best of a big early lead.
Casey McGehee homered during Milwaukee's seven-run second inning and the surging Brewers rebounded from a rare recent loss with an 11-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
McGehee's 10th homer of the season came with Ryan Braun aboard and accounted for the final two runs of a dreadful inning for Pittsburgh's Ross Ohlendorf, who was making his first start since April 8.
Braun had a two-run double earlier in the inning for the NL Central leaders, giving Estrada (4-8) all the support he would need in making his third consecutive stellar fill-in start.
''My goal today was to give the team innings, and I gave them seven,'' Estrada said. ''You don't want to go out there thinking, hey, we've got a 7-0 lead, let these guys hit the ball. But you also don't want to throw balls and get behind in the count. ... You have to stay mentally tough and throw strikes.''
Estrada did not walk a batter and was charged with seven hits in seven innings in improving to 3-2 as a starter this season. He temporarily moved back into the rotation 11 days ago after three-plus months in the bullpen. With Chris Narveson healthy and a doubleheader behind them, the Brewers plan to send Estrada back to the bullpen.
Estrada beat the Pirates for the second time in 11 days. He allowed three runs in 17 innings over his three spot starts.
''You don't really expect, when you have to fill in for somebody, to have those kind of performances,'' Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. ''Every time we ask him to do it, he does a nice job.''
Nyjer Morgan finished 4 for 6 with two runs and two RBIs, and Jonathan Lucroy had three hits for the Brewers, who are on a 24-4 surge. Milwaukee (78-53) surpassed last season's win total and topped Pittsburgh for the 14th time in the past 15 meetings.
The teams split a doubleheader Monday, with the Pirates winning the nightcap.
Josh Harrison hit his first major league homer for Pittsburgh, which has lost five of seven.
Ohlendorf (0-1) was not sharp in his first start in the majors since leaving an outing April 8 due to shoulder discomfort. He made six minor league rehabilitation starts beginning in July and was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis after his stint on the disabled list expired.
He was charged with seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits and two walks in five innings.
''The second inning was very disappointing, but I was happy with the way I rebounded and pitched after that,'' Ohlendorf said. ''In the second inning, I was really overthrowing.''
The Pirates broke open a tie game with a seven-run seventh in the nightcap of Monday's doubleheader, just their fourth win in their past 40 against the Brewers.
Milwaukee's seven-run inning the next day included RBI singles by Lucroy and Morgan and a throwing error by Pittsburgh catcher Ryan Doumit that allowed a run to score.
''After (Monday), we just wanted to come back and definitely go out here and bring that work to them,'' Morgan said.
The Pirates scored two in the eighth off LaTroy Hawkins, and Morgan doubled in one of Milwaukee's two ninth-inning runs.
''(The Brewers are) playing very good baseball,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''There is confidence everywhere with that club right now. They're confident swinging the bat and they have confidence when they're pitching.''
NOTES: Brewers 1B Prince Fielder, who is 1 for 11 in the series, had an RBI double, his NL-leading 100th RBI of the season. ... After the game, the Pirates announced they are purchasing the contract of LHP Aaron Thompson from Triple-A Indianapolis and that he will be Wednesday's starter. INF Pedro Ciriaco, recalled earlier Tuesday, was optioned back to Triple-A. ... Shaun Marcum, scheduled to start Wednesday for Milwaukee, is 4-0 with a 3.43 ERA in his past seven outings. He has allowed only one run in 14 2-3 innings over two victories against the Pirates this season.