Brewers shoot for series win over Pirates

( - Before the Milwaukee Brewers embark on a season-long 10- game road trip, they will try to end a lengthy homestand on a positive note in Thursday's finale of a three-game series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Brewers took Tuesday's series opener by a 5-2 score, but dropped a 4-1 verdict Wednesday night when closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning with the score knotted at 1-1.

"In that situation, you have to find a way to keep the score where it is and give the offense an opportunity," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately it wasn't my day."

Chris Stewart stroked a go-ahead RBI single and later scored on Starling Marte's two-run double. The Brewers amassed one hit in the bottom half of the ninth with two out and Logan Schafer grounded out to end the game.

Jeff Bianchi drove in the lone run for the Brewers, who are 4-4 on the homestand and 8-4-0 in series play. Wily Peralta started for Milwaukee and threw seven innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts and one walk.

Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez, who has nine homers and 21 RBI, did not play Tuesday because of a lower back issue and dropped his appeal of the three-game suspension he received for his part in a bench-clearing incident against Pittsburgh on Easter Sunday.

Gomez will miss Thursday's finale with the Pirates and Friday afternoon's game at Chicago against the Cubs.

Milwaukee will start a 10-game trek against the Cubs, Atlanta and Miami, and is a National League-best 12-5 on the road, going 4-1-0 in series play.

Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo has lost back-to-back starts and hasn't tasted victory since early April. He gets the nod Thursday and has given up 11 runs in the last three starts, including four in each of the previous two.

In a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees last Friday, Gallardo was reached for four runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, a season low. Gallardo has a 2-2 mark in eight starts to go along with a 2.92 ERA and will face Pittsburgh for a third time this season. He hasn't recorded a decision in either start.

Gallardo, a right-hander, has made 22 career appearances (21 starts) against the Pirates, going a sizzling 11-4 with a 2.63 ERA across 130 innings.

Pittsburgh's rally in the ninth inning helped stop a two-game slide and give the club its seventh win in 11 tries. Stewart's hit snapped the tie and Marte provided some breathing room afterward.

"He got a pitch and he was able to square it up and hit it hard," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Stewart's clutch hit. "It was a big swing of the bat for us."

Pedro Alvarez and Ike Davis had two hits apiece, while Tony Watson improved to 4-0 thanks to some late-game heroics. After the Buccos grabbed a three-run lead, Mark Melancon worked around a Bianchi hit in the ninth for his fifth save.

Pirates starter Francisco Liriano is still winless on the season, but pitched well in the no-decision with six innings of one-run ball and seven K's. He scattered four hits and issued one walk.

Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen is two RBI shy of 400 in his career and is batting .370 through his first 12 games in May.

The Pirates will begin a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Friday and are expected to activate Wandy Rodriguez off the disabled list so he can start Thursday. Rodriguez hasn't pitched since April 19 in an 8-7 loss to Milwaukee because of a knee issue and allowed four runs in four innings.

Rodriguez is 0-2 in four starts with a 7.65 earned run average. He has surrendered seven home runs this season and opponents are batting .306 against him. The veteran left-hander owns a 10-10 mark and a 4.18 ERA in 28 career games (27 starts) against the Brewers.

Pittsburgh pitchers have posted a 2.92 ERA in 12 day games this season.

Milwaukee is 7-2 against Pittsburgh this season with a 4-1 mark at home.