Pirates ask Chad Kuhl to try to stop Brewers once again

MLB

The Milwaukee Brewers keep rolling, with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates the latest opponent to try to make some headway against them.

The Brewers opened a weekend series Friday with a 7-4 win over the Pirates to hold on to a share of first place in the National League Central.

Milwaukee is 7-1 in its past eight games, 12-2 in its past 14 and 15-4 in its past 19. In those most recent seven wins, the Brewers have given up just 17 runs.

“The whole pitching staff, anytime we can put some runs on the board for them, we’re very confident we can win some ballgames,” Milwaukee outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. told Bally Sports Wisconsin.

The Pirates have lost five straight and are a season-worst 16 games under .500 but are not down on themselves.

“We just played the Dodgers, who are one of the best teams in baseball, and had a hard-fought series with them. But now we come back into our division with a team we’re familiar with,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton told AT&T Sportsnet.

Pittsburgh played Friday without center fielder Bryan Reynolds and catcher Jacob Stallings in the starting lineup, giving the two regulars a rest.

“I think you’re going to see throughout this road trip guys getting days off,” Shelton said.

The Pirates opened a six-game road trip Friday and are four days into a nine-day stretch with no days off. They have just two scheduled days off before the All-Star break a month from now.

Saturday, Pittsburgh right-hander Chad Kuhl (0-3, 5.61 ERA) is scheduled to face Milwaukee right-hander Corbin Burnes (3-4, 1.97 ERA).

Burnes is coming off a strong outing Sunday against Arizona. He struck out a career-high 13 and walked none in seven scoreless, four-hit innings during a 2-0 win.

Burnes said it “was by far the best I’ve felt all year. Body, arm, stuff coming out of the hand.”

And that’s coming from a pitcher who set an MLB record earlier this year when he recorded 58 strikeouts before he issued his first walk of the season. He has four games this year with double-digit strikeouts and no walks.

Burnes has not faced Pittsburgh this year. In his career, he is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 14 appearances, just two of them starts, against the Pirates.

Kuhl, who will be making his third start since coming off the injury list, would have reason to be one Pirates player happy to play the Brewers — he is 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA in nine career games, eight of them starts, against Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh is 8-0 in his eight starts.

In his only time facing the Brewers this year, Kuhl did not get a decision April 18 when he gave up three runs in five innings in what became a 10-inning Pirates win.

His last time out, Kuhl took the loss despite a solid performance Sunday against Miami, allowing three runs, two of them earned, and three hits in six innings.

It was the first time this season he made it through six innings, and he said an adjustment he made working with pitching coach Oscar Marin is helping. Kuhl has worked to stop falling off to his left on his release.

“Getting that nailed down, it just translates to much better fastball command and getting back to the guy who I’ve been and want to continue to be,” Kuhl said.

–Field Level Media

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