Pirates play rubber match with Brewers

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates' new acquisitions paid immediate dividends on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Bucs turn their attention to a series win when they close out a three-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park.

On Wednesday, Marlon Byrd belted a three-run homer in his first appearance with his new club, as Pittsburgh snapped a three-game losing streak with a 7-1 win.

Byrd, acquired Tuesday along with John Buck from the New York Mets, went 1- for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in his debut but lifted the Pirates in his final at-bat with his 22nd home run of the season.

Gaby Sanchez and Josh Harrison picked up three hits and an RBI apiece behind Charlie Morton (6-3), who was terrific in 6 2/3 innings, allowing just an unearned run on five hits.

"You see confidence, you see really good tempo and rhythm on the mound," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle about Morton. "His complete arsenal of pitches has been in play and he's been really consistent."

With St. Louis losing to Cincinnati, the Pirates moved within a half-game of the Cardinals in the National League Central. After Thursday's finale the Bucs will play six of their next nine against St. Louis.

Tom Gorzelanny (3-6) lasted 5 1/3 innings in defeat after surrendering four runs on nine hits.

"We didn't pitch that well," said Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke. "Offensively, we hit some balls hard that were caught that could have got some things going for us."

Getting the call for the Brewers on Thursday will be righty Yovani Gallardo, who is 9-9 with a 4.61 ERA. Gallardo did not get a decision in Cincinnati on Saturday, as he allowed three runs (2 earned) and six hits in six innings of a 6-4 loss.

"I felt good," Gallardo said. "I thought I was able to keep the ball down in the zone and get out of some jams whenever I needed to."

Gallardo has thrived against the Pirates, posting a 10-4 mark to go along with a 2.77 ERA. That hasn't been the case this year, though, as Gallardo has gone 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will counter with rookie Gerrit Cole, who has lost six of his last eight decisions after opening his career 4-0. Cole lost in San Diego last Wednesday, as he surrendered two runs and 10 hits in six innings to fall to 6-6 to go along with a 3.81 ERA.

The Pirates are 10-5 this season against the Brewers, including wins in seven of the nine matchups in the Steel City.