McCutchen homers again as Pirates beat Brewers 6-4

The Associated Press
McCutchen homers again as Pirates beat Brewers 6-4
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Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen is greeted by his teammates at the dugout after he hit a two-run home run off Milwaukee Brewers' Marco Estrada during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 14, 2012, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Andrew McCutchen turned in an All-Star performance on both sides of the plate.

McCutchen hit a two-run shot for his fourth homer in the last three games and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 on Saturday night.

''Andrew's playing the game at a very high caliber right now on both sides of the ball,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''He's in a very comfortable place.''

McCutchen hit his 20th homer in the third and also made a nice sliding catch on a sinking line drive by Martin Maldonaldo with two runners on to end the eighth.

''He makes those plays look easy,'' Hurdle said. ''But, it's a good first step. It's an exact read when the ball is off the bat. It's a direct line to the ball and a slide.''

The All-Star center fielder is batting .447 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in his last 28 games, and leads the majors with a .366 batting average.

''Offensively, the big swing of the bat (tonight),'' Hurdle said. ''It's been fun to watch. The numbers up there, they really get your attention. The numbers he's been putting up since May, then you look at June, you look at July and keep moving forward.''

McCutchen has now hit a home run in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.

Milwaukee starter Marco Estrada made the mistake to McCutchen and paid for it.

''There was one pitch I regret, the pitch to McCutchen,'' Estrada said. ''I went away from our game plan and decided to throw a fastball away. I shouldn't have done that. And I got hurt for it.''

Casey McGehee had a much better game after striking out four times Friday night. He went 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs.

''I believe in our guys,'' Hurdle said. ''If they don't get it done one day, that doesn't mean you're not going to get it done (the next). Casey struck out four time yesterday. Couple of big swings of the bat today.''

Kevin Correia pitched six effective innings as the Pirates remained tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central lead. Correia (6-6) allowed four runs, two earned, and four hits while improving to 4-0 with a 3.81 ERA in his last five starts.

Pittsburgh scored two runs in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead, making the most of two errors and a passed ball by the Brewers.

Clint Barmes led off with a single and moved to second when the ball went under the glove of left fielder Ryan Braun. Pinch-hitter Josh Harrison then reached when reliever Kameron Loe (4-3) picked up his sacrifice and threw wildly to first, allowing Barmes to score.

''We can't field a bunt when they give us an out,'' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. ''Braun with a little miscue in left field allowing the runner to go to second. And then the passed ball.''

Harrison went all the way to third on Neil Walker's single and scored on Maldonado's passed ball.

''This is a good team,'' Roenicke said. ''We can't play poorly defensively. We talk about this all the time. You can't let games get away from you when you should win, not if you're going to win the division.''

McGehee started the eighth with a drive off Tyler Thornburg for his seventh homer. McGehee finished with three hits.

Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth for his 24th save.

Estrada struck out 11 in 5 2-3 innings and was charged with three runs and six hits.

The Brewers scored two in the second and two more in the third to build a 4-2 lead. Corey Hart had an RBI triple in the second and a sacrifice fly in the third.

NOTES: Walker extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an infield hit in the sixth. ... Pirates OF Alex Presley started in left field Saturday for Triple-A Indianapolis and led off with a single as he began a rehab assignment against the Columbus Clippers. He's been on the seven-day concussion list since July 5. ... Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy made a series of throws to second and third during pregame drills and then headed off to practice his swing. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Lucroy, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a broken finger in his right hand, looked good hitting off a tee. ... The Pirates have hit a home run in their last five games and 16 of the last 18.