Brewers, Pirates commence set at PNC Park

A pair of 15-game winners square off tonight when Yovani Gallardo and the Milwaukee Brewers visit A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park.

The Pirates and Brewers are all even in the National League Central Division standings and are vying to remain in the running for the second of two NL wild card playoff berths.

The teams are tied for third in the Central and 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the last of the pair of wild card spots.

Milwaukee's Gallardo enters the game with a nine-start unbeaten streak that stretches back to July 26, when he dropped an 8-2 decision to Washington.

He's 7-0 in the subsequent outings, in which he's allowed two earned runs or less in eight of the nine games and pitched at least seven innings seven times.

The Brewers have won each of his last nine starts, outscoring their foes, 59-26.

Gallardo is 8-2 lifetime against the Pirates in 14 appearances and last faced them on Sept. 2, getting a no-decision after allowing 11 hits and seven runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The Pirates reply with skidding righty A.J. Burnett, who's not won since Aug. 16 - a stretch of five starts.

The 35-year-old Arkansas native was 15-4 on the season after a 10-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has since gone 0-3 in five tries while his ERA has climbed slightly from 3.54 to 3.66.

He's been beaten by St. Louis, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati in the stretch, while getting no-decisions against San Diego and Milwaukee, allowing two hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings of the latter outing.

Pittsburgh is 4-6 in his last 10 starts.

On Monday in Chicago, Starling Marte drove in two runs, Kevin Correia pitched seven scoreless innings and the Pirates defeated the Cubs, 3-0, to take the finale of a four-game set.

The game was delayed for three hours and thirty-seven minutes due to rain.

Winning for the ninth time in his last 12 decisions, Correia (11-9) pitched valiantly, giving up just two hits while striking out six.

Joel Hanrahan tossed a scoreless ninth to notch his 36th save of the season.

On Sunday in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun hit two homers, Wily Peralta pitched eight shutout innings and John Axford closed it out in the ninth as the Brewers blanked the New York Mets 3-0 to take the rubber match of a three-game set.

Braun's second homer was his 40th of the season, marking the first time in his career that he has reached the plateau.

The Brewers won for the 20th time in their last 26 games.

The Mets managed only two hits, both off of Peralta (2-0), who made just the third start of his career. He fanned five and walked only one.

"He had a good 96 mph fastball and a good sinker," manager Ron Roenicke said. "He kept the ball down in the zone and had a good slider with great command."

Milwaukee won eight of the first 12 games between the teams this season, including a sweep of a three-game set at Miller Park from Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The Brewers won 12 of 15 games in the 2011 series.