The postseason-hungry Pirates have their own issues. After dropping two of three to the Brewers, they have lost five of their last six games.
"They're putting together a good season, and for us, we need to be able to come in and beat the teams that are in front of us," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Not just for now, but for next year. Whenever we get into series that are tight, we need to know we can win them."
Right-hander Mark Rogers won for the second time in a week after being denied in his first six starts in the Major Leagues. He was not exactly sharp, needing 91 pitches for the first four innings before a 10-pitch fifth inning qualified him for the win, but managed to hold the Pirates scoreless on three hits and three walks, with five strikeouts.
"I have to find a way to get deeper into these games," Rogers said.
He did not have any perfect innings, though he was close all day. In each of the first four innings, Rogers retired the first two batters he faced before the third reached safely -- on a walk in the first inning and hits in each of the next three.
Pirates starter Erik Bedard was just as erratic. The two starters combined to throw 94 pitches in the first two innings alone -- and allowed no runs on only one hit. The Brewers finally got to Bedard in the fourth inning, when Gomez hit his 13th home run of the season for a 3-0 lead.
Bedard had two outs and an 0-2 count on Corey Hart before Hart singled. Jonathan Lucroy followed with another single and Gomez hit a first-pitch curveball into the left-field seats.
"When I saw two times he shook [the catcher's signal], I thought, 'OK, he doesn't want to throw me a fastball," Gomez said. "That curve was probably down for a ball, but I'm waiting for it, and I'm on time for it, and I could put a good swing on it."
After that, it was all Brewers.
"One thing happened in a game, and then everybody got excited," Gomez said. "Somebody had to start it."
Rogers started another three-run rally in the fifth inning with a leadoff double. He scored on Rickie Weeks' RBI single, and Weeks scored on Ramirez's two-out home run to straightaway center field.
Norichika Aoki added a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to ice Rogers' win.
"I missed my fair share of pitches today, but every time I missed they were safe misses, I guess," Rogers said. "I can handle that. Again, I just want to be a little more consistent hitting the glove. Later on in the game, I was able to do that a little bit more."
He took the mound for the fifth inning knowing it had to be an economical one or he would not last long enough to qualify for the win. It did not start well.
"I tried to be aggressive, and then I walked the first guy on four pitches," Rogers said. "It's like, 'Come on.' I was a little bit frustrated about that. Today was a battle, but I was able to get through it unscathed, fortunately."
"He was able to grind through five. The fastball -- it's similar to James McDonald," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, referring to one of his own young starters. "He's a big man with a downhill angle, so when the fastball is in the zone, it's tough to strike."
Rogers got through the fifth inning despite that leadoff walk to Travis Snider. Neil Walker flew out before Rogers deflected an Andrew McCutchen comebacker right to second baseman Weeks, who executed a nice double play that ended the inning.
"It was a battle, but to come out of that with putting up all zeroes, that's pretty good," Roenicke said. "[Rogers'] command was a little off. He did throw some nice pitches -- some really nice curveballs -- but the fastball was off. It was in and out of the zone, but he threw enough over there to get through five innings. I wasn't sure he was going to make it through the five."
The Brewers will aim for another road series win this week when they visit Wrigley Field for the first time since the very first road trip of the season. The Brewers took three of four games from the Cubs in early April.
Roenicke continues to dismiss the idea of his club's road woes, saying instead that he is focused on playing "good ball everywhere we go." It just happens that his team has saved most of its good ball for Miller Park, where it is 38-28 overall and 9-1-2 over its last 12 series. Even with this weekend's series win against the postseason-hungry Pirates, the Brewers are 21-39 on the road and 5-14-1 in road series.
For Ramirez, the trip to Chicago will be another series against a former team. He is coming off a big series in which he went 6-for-12 against Pittsburgh with five RBIs.
Ramirez's fifth-inning home run sliced through a stiff wind and just cleared the center-field fence.
"That's impressive," Roencike said. "There's some balls hard hit to right field that don't go anywhere. I just figured you couldn't hit one out there."