Pirates-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

A small indicator of how much the Pittsburgh Pirates have improved is their play this season at Miller Park, a place where wins were once extremely rare.

A.J. Burnett, winner of nine consecutive decisions, will try to help his team prevail in another road series against Yovani Gallardo and the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

Pittsburgh (49-38) has added to its breakthrough campaign by winning 11 of 14, and rebounded from Friday's series-opening loss by rallying for a 6-4 victory Saturday.

The Pirates took advantage of two errors and a passed ball in the seventh inning to take the lead for good for their third win in five visits to Miller Park in 2012. They had totaled six wins over their previous 49 games there.

Andrew McCutchen hit his fourth home run in three games and 20th overall during Saturday's victory. The NL's leading hitter (.366) is batting .477 (41 for 86) with nine homers and 26 RBIs over his last 21 games.

"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," manager Clint Hurdle said.

McCutchen will try to stay hot while leading the Pirates back into sole possession of first place in the NL Central and helping Burnett (10-2, 3.68 ERA) match the longest win streak in the majors this season. The New York Mets' R.A. Dickey is currently on a 10-game run.

Burnett's streak is the longest by a Pirates starter since Dock Ellis won 13 straight in 1971.

"Seeing what's going on here, it's fun to be a part of it," Burnett said.

Burnett has faced the Brewers (41-46) once since the end of the 2008 season, allowing two runs over seven innings in a 5-2 win for the New York Yankees on June 29, 2011.

The right-hander, though, might have to outduel Gallardo (7-6, 3.74), who is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA in his last four starts against the Pirates.

Gallardo is also 1-0 with a 0.71 ERA in his two outings this month and 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA over his last six. He gave up a solo homer and three singles over six innings during his most recent outing, a 7-1 win in Houston on July 6.

"He's got so many different weapons that he can use. And when he gets in a tight spot when he's locating with all those different pitches, it's going to be pretty tough for them to hit.'' manager Ron Roenicke said.

McCutchen, who has homered in three straight games against Milwaukee, is 4 for 15 (.267) with two doubles in his career against Gallardo. Neil Walker, batting .473 during a 14-game hit streak, is 2 for 5.

The Brewers' Ryan Braun is 4 for 6 - all singles - lifetime versus Burnett.

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