|11:10 AM PT12:10 PM MT1:10 PM CT2:10 PM ET14:10 ET18:10 GMT2:10 11:10 AM MST1:10 PM EST1:40 PM VEN22:10 UAE1:10 PM CT, August 16, 2017
Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Attendance: 32,439
Brewers host Pirates, seek fourth straight victory
MILWAUKEE -- It is only a three-game winning streak, but the Milwaukee Brewers feel as if they are back on track in what has suddenly become a scramble atop the National League Central.
The Brewers' surge -- paired with losses by the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night -- moved Milwaukee into a tie with the Cardinals for second place, 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cubs.
After watching their own 5 1/2-game lead over the rest of their rivals disappear thanks to a 7-18 swoon, the Brewers (62-59) suddenly have momentum as they go into the finale of a two-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park.
The Brewers took the series opener 3-1 on Tuesday.
"Our pitching's been really good now for three weeks outside of maybe two or three games," Milwaukee third baseman Travis Shaw said. "Offensively, we just weren't holding up our end of the deal. We had a good series against Cincinnati, Zach (Davies) pitched great again (Tuesday night), and we scored enough runs to win."
Milwaukee's offense got a boost from the addition of Neil Walker, who has three hits in his first two games since coming over from the New York Mets. He also has been impressive in the field and is likely to see a majority of the action at second base down the stretch.
"He (has) played really well," manager Craig Counsell said. "He knows what he's doing."
Jimmy Nelson (9-6, 3.72 ERA) gets the ball for Milwaukee, looking to bounce back after a rough outing last week against the Cincinnati Reds when he was tagged for 10 runs (nine earned) on 11 hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings.
"When it rains, it pours," Nelson said after that outing. "That was pretty tough. Can't do anything about it now. Just get back to work."
Prior to that, though, Nelson has been every bit an ace for the Brewers, going 8-3 with a 2.96 ERA over a 16-start stretch. He has struggled against the Pirates in 2017, though, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA with seven strikeouts in eight innings over two starts.
Overall, Nelson is 5-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 12 career starts against Pittsburgh,
The Pirates will send right-hander Gerrit Cole to the mound, and he will try to continue his success against Milwaukee this year: 1-0 with 1.29 ERA in three starts. He is 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 10 starts vs. the Brewers in his career. Cole is 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA in four career starts at Miller Park.
Cole has been red hot over the past six weeks, going 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA in five starts since the beginning of July.
"I guess it's been pretty good," Cole said of his recent success. "There's still room for improvement. (I'm) still getting nicked here and there. I'll try to get better for the next one."
The Pirates (58-61) have lost three in a row to fall 4 1/2 games behind the Cubs, but they could get a boost with the return of Francisco Cervelli. The catcher missed Pittsburgh's past three games with a sore left wrist but won't need a trip to the disabled list, according to manager Clint Hurdle.
"This is an injury he will need to play through," Hurdle said. "(The time off was) an opportunity for us to calm it down a little bit."
Cervelli is batting .500 in six games against Milwaukee this season but is 3-for-14 (.214) in his career against Nelson.
Updated August 16, 2017