The Brewers look to complete a two-game sweep of the Pirates when the division rivals wrap up their series Thursday at Miller Park.
Milwaukee (8-6) began the season 3-4, but has won five of seven games since, including a 7-3 victory over the Pirates on Wednesday. The Brewers recorded a season-high 15 hits as Bill Hall led the way, with three hits including a two-run homer and three RBIs.
On the downside, Hall also committed hits fourth error of the season in center field.
“Billy’s got a bad habit where he’s getting the ball in his glove and flipping it out of his glove into his hand,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said of Hall, who started at shortstop last year. “He really needs to work on getting the ball and getting his hand in the glove.”
The Pirates (6-7) swept Houston in three games to open 2007, but since then have totaled just three wins in 10 contests. Jason Bay was a bright spot Wednesday, going 3-for-3 and falling a single short of the cycle. The left fielder also became the sixth Canadian-born player with 100 career homers.
Bay is 12-for-19 with four homers, two triples and a double in his last five games at Miller Park. However, he is only 4-for-24 lifetime versus Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan (1-2, 3.72 ERA), who will take the mound after notching his first win with his new team in his last outing.
The right-hander signed a four-year, $42 million deal with the Brewers after spending the previous three seasons in St. Louis. He won the NL championship series MVP last fall and the Cardinals went on to win the World Series title.
Suppan received his championship ring last Friday, and the following day he allowed two runs and six hits while striking out five over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-2 win at St. Louis.
He is 7-3 with a 3.90 ERA in 14 career starts versus Pittsburgh, where he spent part of the 2003 season. Suppan went 10-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 21 starts for the Pirates that year.
He will be opposed by Zach Duke (1-1, 7.20), who looks to celebrate his 24th birthday Thursday by rebounding from one of his worst career starts. The left-hander gave up seven runs and seven hits over two innings of an 8-5 loss to San Francisco on Friday.
“It was bad,” Duke said. “It was pretty much everything. My fastball command wasn’t there and I was trying to find a way to get outs, and I couldn’t find anything that was working.”
Duke made his major league debut on at Miller Park on July 2, 2005, lasting seven innings but not factoring into a 5-3 loss to Milwaukee. He is 3-1 with a 3.63 ERA in seven career starts versus the Brewers.