PITTSBURGH -- The Milwaukee Brewers found the perfect cure for everything that has ailed them so far in May --- the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Marco Estrada bounced back from two awful outings by pitching seven strong innings and Norichika Aoki had three hits and three RBIs to lead the Brewers to a 4-1 victory over the Pirates on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at PNC Park.
The Brewers had been 1-10 in May but Estrada (2-3) lifted them out of their doldrums by giving up only one run and three hits with one walk and five strikeouts while helping snap the Pirates' three-game winning streak.
The Brewers have won 30 of their last 38 games against the Pirates, including 11 of the last 14 at PNC Park.
Estrada was rocked for a combined 13 runs in 8 1/3 innings in his previous two starts, but raised his career record against Pittsburgh to 4-0. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke moved Estrada's turn in the starting rotation back two days in order for the right-hander to have an extra side throwing session with pitching coach Rick Kranitz.
Aoki had two doubles among his three hits, drove in three runs and stole two bases.
Hot-hitting Brewers shortstop Jean Segura had three hits and three steals after being named the National League Player of the Week earlier in the day. Segura is 16-for-34 in his last eight games, lifting his batting average to .368 and moving him one point ahead of teammate Carlos Gomez (.367) for the NL lead.
Milwaukee was successful on all six steal attempts against pitcher A.J. Burnett, who also committed two errors, and catcher Michael McKenry.
Burnett (3-4) allowed four runs -- three earned -- and seven hits in seven innings while striking out six and walking none. Pittsburgh was held to four hits and Clint Barmes had two of them.
Burnett's last inning, the seventh, was particularly ugly as the Pirates made three errors.
First baseman Gaby Sanchez muffed Logan Schafer's grounder to start the inning. Burnett's pickoff throw then bounced into the stands, allowing Schafer to advance to second. Schafer eventually scored when Burnett fumbled Aoki's comebacker.
Pittsburgh got its lone run in the bottom of the seventh when Sanchez doubled and scored on Pedro Alvarez's ground out.
Milwaukee scored a run in the top of the first inning when Aoki led off with a double, went on third on Jean Segura's single and scored on Gomez's single.
Schafer started the Brewers' two-run third with a double into the right-field corner, then scored on Aoki's one-out double. Aoki stole third and came home on an infield single by Segura, who hit a tapper between the pitcher's mound and home plate. That put Milwaukee ahead, 3-0.
NOTES: Milwaukee left fielder Ryan Braun was not in the lineup because of stiffness in his neck and upper back. The Brewers are hopeful a day of rest will help Braun recover and enable him to play Tuesday. ... Slumping Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks did not start for the first time this season as manager Ron Roenicke decided to give him a mental break. Weeks entered the game hitting just .183 with two home runs in 35 games. ... Pittsburgh activated second baseman Neil Walker from the 15-day disabled list before the game and optioned infielder Jordy Mercer to Triple-A Indianapolis. Walker had been out since April 27 with a six-stitch cut on his right index finger. Mercer hit .258 with three home runs in nine games. ... Kyle Lohse (1-4, 3.53) will start for Milwaukee on Tuesday night against left-hander Jeff Locke (3-1, 2.95). Lohse is 9-2 in his career against the Pirates. Locke has won his last three decisions since losing his first start of the season April 6 against the Dodgers at Los Angeles.