PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco doubled twice, drove in two runs and threw out a potential go-ahead run at the plate to lead the surging Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.
Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt left the game in the fifth inning after a collision with Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl at the plate. Vogt caught an incidental elbow to the head from Kuhl, and both players were down for several minutes. Kuhl remained in the game, but Vogt had to be helped to his feet and left to be evaluated for a neck strain and left knee strain. Vogt held onto the ball and Kuhl was called out.
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Polanco finished 4 for 4 and is hitting .446 this month. Francisco Cervelli added two hits for the Pirates, who pulled within six games of the first-place Brewers.
Daniel Hudson (2-4) picked up the win in relief of Kuhl when Polanco nailed Manny Pina at the plate in the sixth to preserve a tie. Polanco drove in Josh Bell in the bottom of the inning off Josh Hader (1-1) to put the Pirates in front. Felipe Rivero retired the last four batters for his seventh save.
Travis Shaw, Eric Thames and Orlando Arcia had two hits each for the Brewers, who have lost consecutive games for the first time this month. The Brewers left 11 men on base.
The Pirates pointed to their post All-Star break homestand against St. Louis and Milwaukee as a chance to finally make inroads in a crowded but unexceptional Central Division race. Outfielder Starling Marte returns from an 80-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension on Tuesday, and he'll join a team that's playing its best baseball of the season thanks in large part to the resurgent Polanco.
The outfielder has raised his average from .237 on July 1 to .269 as the Pirates have clawed their way to 45-48, the closest they've been to .500 since early May.
The surprising Brewers have a semi-comfortable cushion in the division and were in position to push the Pirates down when they took a 2-0 lead on an RBI single by Arcia in the second and an RBI fielders' choice in the fourth by Vogt.
Milwaukee starter Brent Suter was effective over the first four innings before Pittsburgh finally broke through in the fifth. Polanco doubled home Jose Osuna and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer to tie it at two.
Kuhl followed with a single to keep the inning going, then found himself chugging home on a single to right field by Francisco Cervelli. Pittsburgh third base coach Joey Cora decided to send Kuhl with one out and Andrew McCutchen on deck. The decision backfired for both teams, as Kuhl was called out on the play that ended Vogt's day.
Kuhl gave up two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out a career-high seven but was removed for Hudson with two on and two out in the sixth. Hudson allowed a sharp single to pinch-hitter Hernan Perez, but Polanco loaded up to wipe out Pina at home.
Brewers: 2B Eric Sogard tested his sprained left ankle by running in the outfield on Monday and is hopeful he can head out for a rehab assignment later this week. Sogard, who hasn't played since July 4, received a cortisone injection on the ankle last Friday. … RHP Chase Anderson (strained left oblique) could be ready for a bullpen session by the time the team returns home from its 10-game road trip later this month.
Brewers: Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.78 ERA) returns from the 10-day disabled list (right shin contusion) to face the Pirates for the second time this season. Guerra is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in five games against Pittsburgh.
Pirates: Ivan Nova (9-6, 3.21) has gone at least six innings in 17 of his 18 starts this season. Nova is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts versus the Brewers.