Brewers try to extend lead in NL Central

( - With a 6-1 mark and a 1.59 ERA over his last seven starts, Wily Peralta's pitching has been a big reason the Brewers are still in first place in the NL Central.

Milwaukee has been alone or at least tied for first place in the division every day since April 5. That will stay true at least into Sunday as the Brewers hold a 1 1/2 game lead on St. Louis.

Peralta faces the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight in the second contest of this three-game series. His only defeat over the last five weeks was at Wrigley Field, 3-0, to the Cubs on Aug. 12. He tossed six shutout innings at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. He is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates.

Edinson Volquez, who has also been on a roll of late, takes the ball for the Pirates. The righty has won six of his last seven decisions after allowing eight runs in 2 1/3 frames in his start against Cincinnati on June 18. His last road defeat came May 17 at Yankee Stadium.

Volquez is 6-4 with a 4.57 ERA in 15 career starts versus Milwaukee.

Last night, Josh Harrison had three hits and five RBI, two of them on a homer, and the Pirates earned an 8-3 win.

Andrew McCutchen added two hits, including his first homer since coming off the disabled list, and Neil Walker had an RBI triple in Pittsburgh's second win in a row on the heels of a season-high seven-game losing streak.

Jeff Locke (5-3) picked up his third victory in four starts after allowing just two hits and two runs in six innings. Locke walked six and didn't strike out a batter.

Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer for the NL Central-leading Brewers, who have lost two in a row after a five-game winning streak. They were 10-3 against Pittsburgh this season entering the game.

Yovani Gallardo (8-7) took the loss after giving up six runs -- three earned -- on eight hits and three walks in five innings.

"Yovani didn't throw the ball well," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We never really gave him a chance to get in a rhythm."

Milwaukee leads the season series, 10-4.