Davies goes for 12th win as Brewers take on Pirates (Jul 19, 2017)

BY AP • July 19, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Zach Davies takes a gaudy 11-4 record into his Wednesday start against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

His ERA is eye-popping, as well, but not in a good way. It stands at 5.08. However, the Brewers have averaged 7.8 runs in Davies' 19 starts, the most for any starter in the majors.

"I like when Zach pitches, because we score a lot of runs," Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. "That's the first thing. That's the best part about it, that I feel like it's a good day for our offense."

Davies might need a great day from his offense Wednesday. He is 1-3 with a 10.29 ERA in five career starts against the Pirates.

His mound opponent, Gerrit Cole, would have had reason to envy Davies earlier this season when the right-hander's ERA was 3.06 yet he had a 1-4 record and three no-decisions to show for it.

Since then, Cole has received more run support. His record is up to 7-7, but his ERA also has swelled, to 4.35. However, his career numbers against the Brewers (3-3, 3.16) are solid.

Cole yielded two runs in each of his past two starts, both lasting six innings.

Davies was shaky in his previous outing, giving up six runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings on Friday, but he notched yet another win as the Brewers slugged their way to a 9-6 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He was less than thrilled.

"I mean, I'm (expletive) off with my performance, definitely," he said. "But the team's winning, and you can't be selfish in that aspect and be upset and show it when the team is doing what it should be doing."

Davies did have some bright spots in that game, as he has at times during the season. Against the Phillies, he recorded three consecutive outs in the first inning, minimizing damage after two runs had scored, and went on to retire 10 straight hitters.

"He's had some patches where he's given up some runs, but he's kind of gotten through some innings well where he's really helped us," Counsell said.

The Pirates (46-48) have taken the first two games of the series with two more left. Milwaukee (52-44), clinging to first place in the up-for-grabs National League Central, is 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position so far.

"Every baseball game that has been played and will be played, you've got to get hits with runners in scoring position," Counsell said after the Pirates rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 Tuesday, the Brewers' third straight loss. "The last couple nights, we've got guys on. Just haven't been able to get that next hit."

With six wins in their past seven games, the Pirates have closed to within five games of the Brewers in the division. Nine games under .500 on July 3, the Bucs are now just two under. And now they have Starling Marte, one of their top players, back after an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

"The team has worked hard to fight and claw and scratch to where we are," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "What's in front of us is still out there and still available and still pretty good."

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