Published September 03, 2013
| Sports Network
The Pittsburgh Pirates have finished with a losing record in 20 consecutive seasons.
A victory on Tuesday would guarantee that there won't be a 21st.
The first-place Pirates aim for their 81st win of the season in the continuation of a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.
No other franchise in North American professional sports has endured a streak of sub-.500 seasons as long as the Pirates' current drought, which began following a 96-66 campaign in 1992. That was also the last time the Pirates made the playoffs and they are looking to snap both skids this season.
Pittsburgh picked up its fourth win in six games on Monday, besting Milwaukee 5-2 to improve to 80-57 on the season. The Pirates also moved a game ahead of St. Louis for first place in the NL Central after the Cardinals lost to the Cincinnati Reds.
Neil Walker clubbed a three-run homer in the seventh inning and Jose Tabata finished with three hits and two RBI, while starter Charlie Morton was charged with just two runs -- one earned -- over seven innings to notch the win.
"It was a blue-collar effort for Charlie because there was only the one 1-2-3 inning and every other inning there was work to be done," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
The Pirates have won seven of their last nine versus the Brewers and lead the season series 11-6. They have won three straight in Milwaukee for the first time since April 30-May 2, 2004.
Norichika Aoki and Jean Segura each had two hits atop the Brewers' lineup, while starter Tyler Thornburg allowed two runs on six hits and walked three in six full frames as Milwaukee lost its fourth in a row.
"I thought his fastball was good all game. He had a great changeup today. He didn't throw many breaking balls until later in the game, but that became a good pitch for him. It was a nice job by him," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said about Thornburg.
Set to rematch on the mound tonight is Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole and Yovani Gallardo, who helped the Brewers secure a 4-0 win over Cole last Thursday.
Gallardo scattered six hits and a walk over seven innings of work, improving to 2-0 with a 0.93 earned run average over his last three outings. He has given up two earned runs over 19 1/3 innings in that time.
"The main thing is to focus on throwing the ball down," Gallardo said. "If you throw the ball down, they're going to hit ground balls."
The 27-year-old righty is 10-9 with a 4.39 ERA in 26 starts this season and has split four outings versus the Pirates this year with a 2.63 ERA. He is 11-4 with a 2.59 ERA against them lifetime.
Cole, meanwhile, lost his second start in a row as he allowed four runs -- three earned -- over a career-high 7 1/3 innings. He also matched a personal high by giving up 10 hits for a second straight outing.
Cole, 22, is 6-7 with a 3.80 ERA in 14 starts this year, losing seven of nine decisions over 10 outings since winning his first four MLB starts. The right- handed rookie will face the Brewers for the third time.