Pirates beat 1st-place Crew behind Polanco

PITTSBURGH — This week is full of opportunity for the Pirates, who are scratching and clawing their way into contention in the National League Central race. They took another step in the right direction Monday night, when right fielder Gregory Polanco went 4-for-4 with two RBIs to spark the lineup in a 4-2 win over the division-leading Brewers.

The Bucs are still three games under .500 and six games behind the Brewers, who have only lost four times in their last 15 outings, including their last two games. But the Pirates have won eight of their last 10 games, they have Starling Marte returning from his suspension on Tuesday, and they have three more matchups with the Brewers in this series at PNC Park.

Polanco’s four hits included a pair of run-scoring doubles, one in the fifth against left-hander Brent Suter and another in the sixth off southpaw Josh Hader. Polanco scored the tying run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer and a valuable insurance run in the eighth on Max Moroff‘s single to left.

Right-hander Chad Kuhl gave the Pirates a solid 5 2/3-inning start that saw him strike out a career-high seven, while Felipe Rivero finished the job with a four-out save.

Travis Shaw scored both runs for the Brewers, while shortstop Orlando Arcia had two hits, an RBI and stole three bases.

Strong Coffee: The Brewers had a chance to take the lead in the sixth with two on and two outs and pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar set to face reliever Daniel Hudson. Aguilar delivered the key hit Milwaukee needed, slapping a ground-ball single through the right side of the infield. Brewers third-base coach Ed Sedar sent home Manny Pina from second base, but Polanco delivered a strong throw to the plate, where catcher Francisco Cervelli twisted to his left and tagged out the sliding Pina for the final out.

Elementary? Clinging to a one-run lead, Pirates reliever Tony Watson got himself into and out of a tight spot in the seventh inning. Eric Thames and Ryan Braun singled with one out, before Watson struck out Shaw and walked Domingo Santana. Up came Pina with two outs and the bases loaded. The Brewers catcher worked a full count before chopping a 95-mph sinker back toward the mound. Watson snared the ball and flipped it to first base, leaving the bases loaded and running the Brewers’ left-on-base total to 10.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Brewers on Monday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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