MILWAUKEE -- Thanks to Marco Estrada, the Milwaukee Brewers' effective but overworked bullpen was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
After Brewers starters threw a combined 11 innings during a three-game series against Los Angeles earlier this week, Estrada worked seven innings in Milwaukee's 2-1 victory on Friday night over the Pirates at Miller Park.
"That was an outstanding way to start off a long stretch," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, whose team opened a stretch of 20 games in as many days.
The last time a Milwaukee starter threw more than six innings was May 13 when Estrada also went seven against the Pirates in PNC Park. Estrada and Kyle Lohse are the only two Brewers pitchers to work at least seven innings three times this season.
"It's always nice," Estrada said. "I didn't realize my pitch count was at 100, I wanted to go back out there. I wish I could have thrown a complete game and give the bullpen another day of rest."
Estrada was perfect out of the gate, retiring the first 14 Pirates batters in order and striking out six of eight before Neil Walker broke up a no-hit bid with a two-out pop-fly single to left.
Estrada snared Brandon Inge's comebacker to end the inning and put away five of his next six before Gaby Sanchez singled in the seventh. Sanchez was wiped out at second on a running grab by Jean Segura, but with Russell Martin at first, Walker drove him home with a double that bounced off the wall in center.
Another Inge groundout ended the inning and Estrada's day was done. He allowed one run, four hits and no walks, throwing 73 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
"I've been struggling a lot with my curveball, but today I threw a lot of them for strikes," Estrada said. "I had really good fastball command and had a lot of swings and misses on the changeup. I knew once the curveball was there, it could be a good night."
Estrada's offense provided a 2-0 lead in the second. Aramis Ramirez led off with a walk and moved to third on Carlos Gomez's double. Both scored on a one-out double by Alex Gonzalez.
"Alex put a good swing on that hook," Pirates starter A.J. Burnett said. "I didn't lose the game on one pitch. It was a heck of a game by both of us."
Aside from the second, Burnett was just as dominant as his Milwaukee counterpart, retiring 10 consecutive batters after the Gonzalez double before Estrada's two-out single in the fifth.
Burnett (3-5) also worked through seven innings, allowing both Milwaukee runs, three hits and two walks while striking out six. Bryan Morris kept the Brewers off the board in the eighth.
"Someday, we'll score for A.J.," said Walker, who finished the day with two of the Pirates' five hits. "We've just got to be better."
Jim Henderson worked around a leadoff single to Andrew McCutchen but suffered a leg injury trying to field Martin's grounder and had to leave the game with what Roenicke said was a strained hamstring.
Henderson, who had converted all nine of his previous save opportunities, will be re-evaluated Saturday.
Francisco Rodriguez got the final out to pick up his first save since July 18, 2012.
NOTES: Brewers RHP Hiram Burgos was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement before the game. LHP Tom Gorzelanny was activated from the disabled list, filling Burgos' spot on the roster. ... The Pirates had won four in a row and 11 of their last 13 heading into Friday's action. ... Brewers starters were 11-19 before Friday with an NL-worst 5.28 ERA. ... Burnett struck out six Milwaukee batters Friday and leads the National League with 85 this season. ... The Brewers are 47-8 against the Pirates at Miller Park since 2007. ... McCutchen singled in the ninth inning and is hitting .369 (31 for 84) since going 4 for 5 in Milwaukee on April 30.