MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke has been preaching the same message all season. There's not much evidence it's sinking in.
"We can't play poorly defensively," Roenicke said. "We talk about this all the time. You can't let games get away from you when you should win, not if you're going to win the division."
Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run shot for his fourth homer in the last three games and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Brewers 6-4 on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh scored two runs in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead, making the most of two errors and a passed ball by the sloppy Brewers.
Clint Barmes led off with a single and moved to second when the ball went under the glove of left fielder Ryan Braun. Pinch-hitter Josh Harrison then reached when reliever Kameron Loe (4-3) picked up his sacrifice and threw wildly to first, allowing Barmes to score.
"We can't field a bunt when they give us an out," Roenicke said. "Braun with a little miscue in left field allowing the runner to go to second. And then the passed ball."
Loe needed just two pitches to end the sixth and hold a 4-3 lead for starter Marco Estrada.
"He came in and did a nice job for us to get the out," Roenicke said of Loe. "Then you put him back out the other inning, which we thought the match ups were pretty good, but fielding your position is part of the game. He had plenty of time, he just didn't move his feet well. Everything we practiced in spring training with all the fundamentals of moving your feet, and he didn't do it."
Milwaukee had a tough time with McCutchen.
"Andrew's playing the game at a very high caliber right now on both sides of the ball," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's in a very comfortable place."
McCutchen hit his 20th homer in the third and made a nice sliding catch on a sinking line drive by Martin Maldonaldo with two runners on to end the eighth.
"He makes those plays look easy," Hurdle said. "But, it's a good first step. It's an exact read when the ball is off the bat. It's a direct line to the ball and a slide."
The All-Star center fielder is batting .447 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in his last 28 games, and leads the majors with a .366 batting average.
"Offensively, the big swing of the bat (tonight)," Hurdle said. "It's been fun to watch. The numbers up there, they really get your attention. The numbers he's been putting up since May, then you look at June, you look at July and keep moving forward."
McCutchen has now hit a home run in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.
"There was one pitch I regret, the pitch to McCutchen," Estrada said. "I went away from our game plan and decided to throw a fastball away. I shouldn't have done that. And I got hurt for it."
Casey McGehee had a much better game after striking out four times Friday night. He went 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs.
"I believe in our guys," Hurdle said. "If they don't get it done one day, that doesn't mean you're not going to get it done (the next). Casey struck out four time yesterday. Couple of big swings of the bat today."
Kevin Correia pitched six effective innings as the Pirates remained tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central lead. Correia (6-6) allowed four runs, two earned, and four hits while improving to 4-0 with a 3.81 ERA in his last five starts.
Harrison went all the way to third on Neil Walker's single and scored on Maldonado's passed ball.
"This is a good team," Roenicke said.
McGehee started the eighth with a drive off Tyler Thornburg for his seventh homer.
Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth for his 24th save.
Estrada struck out 11 in 5 2-3 innings and was charged with three runs and six hits.
The Brewers scored two in the second and two more in the third to build a 4-2 lead. Corey Hart had an RBI triple in the second and a sacrifice fly in the third.
NOTES: Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy made a series of throws to second and third during pregame drills and then headed off to practice his swing. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Lucroy, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a broken finger in his right hand, looked good hitting off a tee. ... Milwaukee is 23-22 at Miller Park. ... Estrada's 11 strikeouts was one shy of his career high.