This series between the Brewers and Pirates figured to play a significant role in how the National League Wild Card race shakes out.

So far the Brewers are the ones moving in the right direction.

Winners of the first two games of the series at PNC Park, the Brewers -- who have won 22 of their last 28 games -- will try to continue their climb up the Wild Card standings in Thursday's finale.

The Pirates, on the other hand, are just trying to stay in the postseason discussion.

En route to taking the series opener on Tuesday, the Brewers stole seven bases. On Wednesday they racked up 11 hits in a 3-1 victory. Milwaukee is now 10-4 against Pittsburgh this season.

"We know the history," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "They've pushed us around for years, and they've piled on the stolen bases lately. We brought a to-do list into this season, and doing something about this is still on the list."

Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez will take the mound for the Pirates. Since pitching two innings and earning the win in the Pirates' 19-inning victory over the Cardinals on Aug. 19, his ERA is 1.95 in 32 1/3 innings.

The Brewers' postseason hopes have been bolstered by callups. Rookie Mike Fiers, Thursday's starter, made his first career start on May 29 and has been a steady presence in the rotation since. Starter Wily Peralta, reliever Jim Henderson and shortstop Jean Segura are also having an impact.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke thinks the callups can learn a lot from the experience of being part of a contending team.

"Usually in September, yeah, it's the big leagues, but there's not as much pressure on the games," Roenicke said. "There's pressure on these games. We're not playing like there's pressure, but there's pressure on these games. Whenever that's the case, it's huge for what you see in evaluating that player."

Brewers: 10 years in the Majors for Rodriguez
Reliever Francisco Rodriguez celebrated 10 years in the Major Leagues on Tuesday.

"I'm getting old," Rodriguez said, and laughed.

"No, it's a blessing," he added. "I was talking to my mom and my cousin, and I said, 'Time is flying by.'"

Rodriguez will be a free agent at the end of the season and will try to find a closer's job somewhere. In 2012 he's had the worst ERA (4.78), walks plus hits per innings pitched (1.453) and strikeout rate (8.9 batters per nine innings) of his career.

Recently, he's been better. In seven September appearances, his ERA is 1.29.

"If he is throwing like he was all of last year, and like he has thrown recently, I would have no problem at all [making him a closer]," Roenicke said.

Pirates: Walker still dealing with back issue
Second baseman Neil Walker didn't play on Wednesday as he continues to feel the effects of a tight lower back. He played full games on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.

"I wish I could play every day, but by the end of playing a game, I feel real sapped," Walker said. "I have to listen to my body and not push it."

The Pirates are 6-14 since Walker was shelved.

"It's challenging now for him. He gives us what he can give us," Hurdle said. "It might be every other day, it might be two days then an off-day. We'll just have to take it day by day."

• The Pirates have hit two homers in their last eight home games.

Worth noting
• Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is batting .378 with five doubles, four homers and seven RBIs against Rodriguez.

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