MILWAUKEE -- Chris Carter hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Junior Guerra did most of the rest, treating fans and a slew of rival scouts to 8 2/3 terrific innings in the Brewers' 3-1 win over the Pirates on Friday at Miller Park.
With the seats behind home plate dotted with scouts from teams seeking starting pitching before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- and facing one of those teams in the Pirates -- the 31-year-old rookie flirted with the Brewers' first complete game in more than a year before settling for his seventh victory. Guerra scattered four hits, struck out five and retired 21 of 22 batters in one stretch. He came within two outs of the Brewers' first shutout in nearly two years, and within one out of the team's first complete game since Taylor Jungmann went the distance last July 11.
"I really wanted it," Guerra said. "I'm thankful [Brewers manager Craig Counsell] had confidence in me to get it. Unfortunately I didn't get it. But that's baseball for you. Sometimes it doesn't go your way."
Guerra entered the ninth inning at 87 pitches with hope for a "Maddux" -- a complete-game shutout on fewer than 100 pitches. The Pirates dashed those hopes, with pinch-hitter Matt Joyce leading off with a single and John Jaso working a walk on Guerra's 99th pitch.
Andrew McCutchen's groundout ended Guerra's shutout bid, and Starling Marte's smash single up the middle with two outs ended Guerra's bid for a complete game in more than a year. Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress retired Jung Ho Kang on one pitch for the save.
"We put the ball on the ground, popped it up, mishit him most of the night," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He made pitches and stayed out of the middle of the plate. Extremely effective."
The Brewers have won 14 of their last 19 games against the Pirates at Miller Park, dating back to 2014.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Long time coming: Carter's homer was his team-best 23rd this season, but his first since July 8. That 15-game power drought was Carter's longest this season and the fifth longest of his career.
"It feels like it's been a couple days since his last home run," Counsell said. "But it was coming. You know it's coming from him."
Quality encore: Pirates left-hander Steven Brault's second Major League start was far from perfect. He walked three, gave up seven hits and nearly threw as many balls as strikes. But the end result was what Pittsburgh needed: a six-inning, three-run quality start. Two runs came early, when Carter homered on a low slider, and former Pirate Keon Broxton drove in the Brewers' third run with a sixth-inning double. In the second and fourth innings, Brault escaped further damage by striking out Jonathan Villar and stranding runners on second and third base. More >
"When you look back on the start, I see it as there's all these things I need to improve, all these things I need to work on. And there are," Brault said. "But you look back on it, I didn't have my best stuff -- my changeup wasn't really there -- but overall, I let the guys hit it, let my defense do the work and they did. They kept me in the game through six."
Hello, old friends: Broxton matched his career high by reaching safely three times; working walks in the second inning and the fourth before delivering an RBI double in the sixth for a 3-0 lead. The Brewers acquired the speedy Broxton from the Pirates along with pitching prospect Trey Supak in a December trade for first baseman Jason Rogers, who is currently at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Asked whether his contributions felt better against a former team, Broxton said, "Oh, yeah, it feels great. Just to be able to play against those guys and beat them, it's awesome."
Another loss: Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli left the game in the eighth inning after Juan Nicasio's pitch deflected off Scooter Gennett's pant leg and into Cervelli's right foot. Cervelli, who missed more than five weeks in June and July after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured hamate bone, fell to the dirt in pain. He walked off the field with the assistance of two trainers, not putting any weight on his right foot.
"Just goes to show you there's stories out there. There's guys to find. You've got to hunt them. You've got to give the Brewers credit for having their eyes on this guy, bringing him in, giving him the opportunity to pitch. This man's taken advantage of it. He's been very effective since he joined their rotation." --Hurdle, on Guerra
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Jeffress logged the 11th one-out save in Brewers history and the fourth in the past 10 seasons. He joined some heady company; the last three men to do it were Francisco Rodriguez (Sept. 1, 2015), Trevor Hoffman (June 29, 2009) and Francisco Cordero (May 5, 2007), who have a combined 1,345 saves. Jeffress is 25-for-26 in save chances in his first season as Milwaukee's closer.
The Brewers extended the bottom of the third inning by successfully challenging a Carter double-play grounder. Upon review, Carter was safe at first base, forcing Brault and the Pirates to return to the the field to continue the inning. Hernan Perez popped out to end it.
Villar stole second base after a leadoff infield single in the seventh inning, his Major League-leading 37th steal. The Pirates challenged the call, which stood after a replay review.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: Rookie Jameson Taillon will make his eighth start in Saturday's 7:10 p.m. ET game at Miller Park. The Pirates have won each of Taillon's last four starts, and he has put together three straight quality starts without walking a batter. The right-hander held the Brewers to one run on five hits while striking out three on July 19.
Brewers:Chase Anderson has no quality starts in his last seven outings, a funk he'll look to snap in Saturday's 6:10 p.m. CT start at Miller Park. The Brewers are 7-12 in his starts, including Anderson's five-inning performance in a win over Arizona on this homestand.