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PIT@MIL: McCutchen launches a two-run blast in third

MILWAUKEE -- Kevin Correia knew four runs weren't going to be enough to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a different story earlier in the season, but not anymore.

Correia retired the final 11 men he faced in six innings, putting his team in position to scratch across the necessary runs in a 6-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night at Miller Park. The Pirates (49-38), who scored four or more runs for the 13th time in 15 games and won for the 11th time in 14 games, remained tied for first place in the National League Central with the Cincinnati Reds.

Pittsburgh plated the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh, and home runs from white-hot Andrew McCutchen and Casey McGehee helped the cause after Milwaukee took leads of 2-0 and 4-2.

"At the beginning of the year, it was about trying to not give up that many runs and try to hang in there," said Correia (6-6), who matched a career best in winning his fourth consecutive decision. "I gave up four runs in the first three innings and I knew that wouldn't be enough, especially in this ballpark. This is a weird place to pitch, it's kind of like Colorado -- you know there's going to be runs scored. I knew four wasn't going to be enough to beat us, and I was able to hold it right there."

Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit a chopper to third that bounced past the backhand of Pedro Alvarez for a two-base error in the third, allowing a run to score and setting up a sacrifice fly from Corey Hart one batter later, making it 4-2. But Correia never permitted another batter to reach, finishing with four runs (two earned) allowed on four hits in his six frames, with six strikeouts and a walk.

"He was just changing speeds enough," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's never going to be overpowering; he's going to beat you with command and miss the bat -- not miss it completely, just mishit it. He had a nice assortment of pitches and nice work by [catcher Michael] McKenry to continue to add and subtract throughout the outing."

McCutchen's 20th home run of the year came on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the third and tied the game, 2-2, marking his third straight game with a blast. First baseman Garrett Jones was the last Pirate to homer in three straight games when he did so in four straight, also straddling an All-Star break in 2009.

That wasn't all from McCutchen, who also made a slick sliding grab in center field with two outs in the eighth, perhaps taking away an extra-base hit from Martin Maldonado with the potential tying runs on base.

"Andrew is playing the game at a very high caliber right now on both sides of the ball," Hurdle said. "He's in a very comfortable place. He makes those plays look easy but it's a good first step, it's an exact read when the ball's off the bat and it's a direct line to the ball and a slide. Any missteps out there, he might not make the play. Offensively, with the big swing of the bat ... it's been fun to watch. The numbers up there really get your attention."

McGehee had a 3-for-5 day with two runs driven in after going 1-for-10 in his first three games back at Miller Park since getting traded from the Brewers in the offseason. He struck out four times Friday, but his homer in the eighth added insurance, and his RBI single in the sixth brought his team to within a run at 4-3.

"It's getting to the point where even if we're down early, we're just waiting for something good to happen," McGehee said. "As soon as we get rolling, we can capitalize. Even early in the game, we left a couple chances out there but you keep giving yourself opportunities, somebody's going to come through. The key is to keep putting yourself in those situations. It just goes back to confidence. It's a crazy thing how much confidence plays into this."

Pittsburgh stranded a runner at third with no outs in the second and another runner at third with one out in the sixth, but the Brewers' defensive woes contributed to the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh.

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun whiffed trying to scoop up Clint Barmes' leadoff single and allowed the Pirates shortstop to reach second as it rolled to the wall. Barmes scored when pitcher Kameron Loe (4-3) threw Josh Harrison's bunt away at first base, knotting the score at 4-4.

With runners at the corners and one out, ball four to McCutchen glanced off Maldonado's glove to the backstop for a passed ball, and Harrison scored easily from third base.

"We're hitting the ball so well right now, it just gives you the confidence to keep putting up zeros rather than giving up after you've given up a few," Correia said. "I think all the pitching staff feels that way right now."

Brewers starter Marco Estrada struck out 11 batters in just 5 2/3 innings but left with a no-decision, allowing three runs on six hits.

"There was one pitch I regret, and that was the pitch to McCutchen," Estrada said. "I went away from our game plan and decided to throw a fastball away. And I shook it off, which I shouldn't have done, and I got hurt for it. I can't be doing stuff like that. I've got to stick to the game plan and try to make the pitches."

The Pirates bullpen was able to make its pitches in relief of Correia. Chris Resop worked around a leadoff single in the seventh and retired Travis Ishikawa on a fly ball to the warning track in left to end the frame. Jason Grilli issued a leadoff walk in the eighth but stranded two runners with the two-run lead still intact when McCutchen made the sliding snare in center. Joel Hanrahan worked a scoreless ninth around a one-out walk to earn his 24th save of the season.

Neil Walker extended his hitting streak to 14 games and finished with two hits and two runs scored.

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