Pirates hope to exorcise demons in Milwaukee

The Pirates are coming off a solid May, one in which they capped a successful homestand to get back to .500 on the season.

A trip to Miller Park could reverse their momentum in a hurry.

Pittsburgh tries to shake off its recent struggles in Milwaukee's home park in tonight's opener of a three-game series.

The Pirates got an excellent outing from starter A.J. Burnett in Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Reds. It was Pittsburgh's 15th win of the month, the most since 2008, and gave the club a 6-3 record on its homestand and a 25-25 mark on the season.

Burnett allowed a double to begin the game, but didn't give up another hit until the seventh inning. He allowed one unearned run over seven strong innings.

"[Burnett] kept us in it at the time," Hurdle said. "Kept their momentum at a minimum."

Matt Hague came through with a clutch two-out double that scored Neil Walker and Garrett Jones in the sixth inning as the Pirates pulled to within three games of the Reds for first place in the National League Central.

"That's a big swing of the bat for us," Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. "Shows some growth in a young man."

Pittsburgh may not get any closer if it doesn't figure out how to win at Milwaukee. The Pirates are a mere 4-38 in their past 42 trips to Miller Park, winning just once in nine meetings a season ago. They lost 12 of 15 overall to Milwaukee in 2011 and the Brewers are 28-8 in the past 36 encounters as well.

Pirates starter Kevin Correia isn't immune to those struggles as he has lost six of his past seven decisions versus the Brewers and will try to beat them tonight for the first time since Aug. 12, 2009. He went 0-3 with a 5.94 earned run average in three starts in this series last year.

The right-hander hasn't won since April 15, but did avoid a sixth straight loss with Saturday's no-decision against the Cubs. Correia pitched well, giving up two runs on two hits and a pair of walks in 6 1/3 innings of his club's 3-2 win.

Correia has not received more than two runs of support in any of his nine starts this season, leaving the 31-year-old with a season record of 1-5 with a 4.30 ERA.

Pittsburgh could be just the right opponent for Milwaukee hurler Randy Wolf to turn things around against tonight. In 19 career meetings with the Pirates, the left-hander is 9-3 with a 4.21 ERA.

Wolf closed out April with a win at San Diego, but went 0-2 with a 4.71 ERA in all five of his starts last month. He has not factored into the decision of his last two outings and faced the Diamondbacks on Sunday, giving up three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits and a walk in 5 2/3 frames.

The 35-year-old is 2-4 with a 5.73 ERA in 10 starts this season, but does hold a 1-2 record and 3.60 ERA in five outings at home.

Milwaukee is 11-13 as the host this year, but does return to Miller Park on a roll having recorded their first ever four-game sweep at Dodger Stadium to begin the week. The Brewers capped the feat over the club with the best record in the majors by taking Thursday's finale 6-2.

Zack Greinke hurled six innings of one-run ball, striking out six, while Carlos Gomez and Aramis Ramirez hit two-run homers in Milwaukee's sixth win in eight games. That leaves it 5 1/2 games back of Cincinnati in the standings.

"I feel great with the way we are playing," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. "We can compete with anyone with the team we have out there."

Roenicke's club picked up the triumph without reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun in the lineup. He aggravated an Achilles injury on Wednesday and was available to pinch-hit, but was not needed.

The Brewers will hope Braun can get back in the lineup tonight. He is a lifetime .323 hitter versus the Pirates and is 7-for-23 lifetime versus Correia with a pair of homers and five RBI.