By Rich Rovito
Wandy Rodriguez won his fourth consecutive start, Pedro Alvarez had a two-run double and the Pittsburgh Pirates built an early four-run lead before holding off the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Sunday.
The Pirates have won 13 of 15 and are a season high 12 games over .500.
Rodriguez (6-2) gave up three earned runs on seven hits in five innings to earn the victory. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth for his major league-leading 20th save.
Pittsburgh got to Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo for a run in the second on Jordy Mercer’s two-out triple, which scored Michael McKenry, who walked.
Pittsburgh extended the lead in the third. Starling Marte led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones. A two-out double by Alvarez plated two more runs, giving Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead.
Gallardo (3-5) labored through just four innings. He gave up four earned runs and five hits while striking out seven and walking two.
The Brewers rallied in the fifth. Rickie Weeks had a lead-off single. After Rodriguez retired the next two batters, Norichika Aoki singled up the middle and Jean Segura reached on an infield hit, loading the bases. Ryan Braun followed with a three-run double, cutting the Pirates lead to 4-3.
The Pirates added a run in the sixth on Marte’s sacrifice fly.
Milwaukee again cut the lead to a single run in the eighth when Jeff Bianchi belted a one-out triple and scored on a Carlos Gomez’s sacrifice fly.
Mercer had three hits and a stolen base for the Pirates.
Notes: The Brewers on Sunday selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Donovan Hand from Triple-A Nashville. Hand pitched two innings in his major league debut. Hand filled the roster spot of closer Jim Henderson, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a right hamstring strain. Hand’s parents and brother drove from Alabama to attend the game. “My dad has dreamed of this for all his life. He wouldn’t miss it for the world.”