PITTSBURGH -- The Brewers continued to make life miserable for the Pirates, making their last lead on Thursday night stand up for a 6-4 win in 13 innings. Logan Schafer drove in the decisive run with a two-out single off Radhames Liz, who also gave up an RBI single to Luis Sardinas.
It was the Brewers' seventh consecutive win over the Bucs, who are 6-10 in the season series. The latest defeat prevented Pittsburgh from taking advantage of St. Louis' 11-0 loss at Cincinnati, and kept the Pirates 4 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Cardinals while shaving their Wild Card lead over the postponed Cubs to 2 1/2 games.
"We're here trying to win games. We know we're not close to being in the playoffs or anything like that, but we are playing spoiler," Schafer said. "We're here definitely trying to pull out all the stops and get victories whenever we can."
Liz was making his third appearance since being added to the Pirates' expanded September roster. All three have been against the Brewers.
"So they've seen him a little bit, but he's done a fine job," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "His command was a little erratic tonight. The command hurt us … hurt him."
A.J. Burnett, making his first start since July 30 after recovering from a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow, pitched hitless ball after allowing three runs in the first, facing only one man over the minimum across his final four innings. He issued two walks in that span, with one of the runners erased on a double play.
"I just threw balls down the middle, and they did what big league hitters are supposed to do to them," said Burnett, who is three weeks from the regular-season end of what he said will be his final season. "Center-cut … I was able to find the corners after that, but you've got to come out of the gate better than that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Davis does damage: The Brewers jumped on Burnett in the first inning, putting up three runs. Khris Davis dealt Burnett his biggest blow, crushing a 92-mph sinker to center field. Davis' 19th homer was projected by Statcast™ to travel 436 feet from the plate and left his bat at 109 mph. More >
"We've talked about this year that the first inning is just an inning where you can get to starting pitching before he's settled in," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We did a really nice job of that."
Picked off: The Pirates had just broken through against Wily Peralta and had the potential tying run at the plate when Francisco Cervelli was picked off second base by catcher Martin Maldonado to end the fifth inning with the Brewers still up, 3-1.
High-leverage high-wire act: Peralta left the game with runners on the corners and none out in the seventh. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress struck out Pedro Alvarez, but followed with a walk to load the bases, a strikeout and a run-scoring walk to pinch-hitter Travis Snider. In came struggling lefty Will Smith with two out and the bases loaded. Smith struck out Polanco, but his final pitch nearly got away from Maldonado before the catcher could throw down to first base to end the inning.
"It was a huge out," Counsell said. "I thought it was the perfect spot to get [Smith] back out there tonight."
Blanton blanks 'em:Joe Blanton did his best MacGyver act in the sixth to keep the game close. After Elian Herrera led off with a single and Braun doubled him to third, Blanton fanned Adam Lind, Herrera was nailed at home on Davis' grounder to third, and Domingo Santana struck out to end the scoreless inning with the Brewers still only up 3-1. More >
"Seven's OK. Eight would be better. We'll see how it goes. We're going to try to do it in nine tomorrow. That's our goal." --Schafer, on the Brewers' long winning streak over the Pirates and Thursday's four-hour, 44-minute victory
"I'm too old to be amped up over a start. There's no 'first inning, haven't pitched in a long time,' ... none of that. I've got to come out of the gate better than that." -- Burnett, disdaining all the available alibis for his shaky first inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his third strikeout, career No. 2,487, Burnett passed Hall of Fame right-hander Don Drysdale for No. 32 on the all-time list. Some of the others on that list Burnett had already passed this season: Sandy Koufax, Dennis Eckersley, Luis Tiant. Andy Pettitte, Jim Kaat and Jack Morris.
A steal of second base by Braun with one out in the 10th was quickly overturned on a game-saving challenge by the Pirates. Second baseman Josh Harrison gloved catcher Cervelli's throw and with one motion tagged Braun near his hip before he reached the bag. The call prevented the Brewers from breaking a tie as two hits followed with the bases empty, an infield single by Jason Rogers and a double by Santana.
MARTE EXITS AFTER BEING HIT
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, a frequent inadvertent target of pitches, finally took a hit that forced him out of the game. Marte departed in the top of the ninth, soon after being hit on the left shoulder by a Knebel pitch in the eighth. The club said he was suffering "discomfort" in the shoulder and was getting treatment.
"We don't know," Hurdle said about Marte's status for Friday's game. "It was painful enough that he had to come out of the game, so we'll just have to monitor him, see how he feels tomorrow."
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: Right-hander Jimmy Nelson will get the start on Friday at 6:05 p.m. CT in the rematch at PNC Park. Nelson is looking to continue his season-long dominance of the Pirates -- 4-1 with a 1.72 ERA in five starts against the Bucs this year.
Pirates:Charlie Morton takes the PNC Park mound -- where he excels, 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA -- to face the Brewers on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET in the second of a four-game series. In an earlier home start against Milwaukee this season, Morton blanked them on three hits for 7 1/3 innings.