The Pittsburgh Pirates have not yet given up on reaching the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, winning six of their last seven contests. The red-hot Sean Rodriguez leads the Pirates as they attempt to complete a three-game sweep and win for the seventh straight time at Miller Park when they visit the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.
Rodriguez has played a big part in the surge as he is 15-for-36 with six home runs and 15 RBIs during his 10-game hitting streak for Pittsburgh, which finds itself 3 ½ games out of the second National League wild-card spot. Former MVP Andrew McCutchen, who has hit safely in nine straight contests, also has lifted his game with 18 RBIs in September. The Brewers have managed four runs in the first two games of the series but could get slugger Ryan Braun back in the lineup Thursday after he left the team to be with his wife for the birth of their son. Milwaukee will send the improving Chase Anderson to the mound for the finale against Pittsburgh veteran Ryan Vogelsong.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 4.87 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Chase Anderson (8-11, 4.47)
Vogelsong is winless in his last four starts and did not record an out in the sixth inning during any of them. The 39-year-old veteran yielded six runs - four earned - over 4 2/3 frames at Cincinnati last time out and did not factor in the decision of a 9-7 triumph. All of Vogelsong’s victories this season have occurred on the road, and his last came at Milwaukee on Aug. 22, when he gave up two runs over 5 1/3 innings.
Anderson’s only loss in his last 12 starts came against Pittsburgh on Aug. 28, but he is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in four outings versus the Pirates this season. The 28-year-old Texan did not give up a run in two of his three starts this month – one of them being against Pittsburgh – and has posted six of his eight wins at home. Gregory Polanco is just 4-for-17 versus Anderson but has taken the Oklahoma product deep twice.
1. Milwaukee INF Jonathan Villar has recorded 57 stolen bases – one behind major-league leader Billy Hamilton of Cincinnati.
2. Pittsburgh LF Starling Marte (back) pinch-hit on Wednesday - his first appearance since Sept. 5 - and could return to the starting lineup soon.
3. Brewers UTIL Hernan Perez has hit safely in his last five games and is 18-for-58 with three homers, 10 runs scored and 11 RBIs against the Pirates this season.
PREDICTION: Brewers 6, Pirates 4